January 31, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Russell Wangersky's "Eastern Passages" column appears three times a week in The Guardian. He writes about Atlantic Provinces issues or some aspect of life in our region. He is based in Newfoundland, but appears to travel around a bit.
Here is his column from January 15th of this year. Oddly, it wasn't archived on-line as are most of his columns.
Cancer Roulette - The Guardian Eastern Passages column by Russell Wangersky
Published Saturday, January 17th, 2015, in The Guardian
To me, both sides of the argument actually make sense — but first, the two sides themselves.
Not long ago, within the last couple of weeks in fact, a mathematical modelling study of cancer patients came to the conclusion that a vast number of cancers are just the result of bad luck.
On the other side, physicians who treat cancer didn’t take long to kick back: afraid that people might take the “bad luck” explanation as a justification to behave any way they liked, the physicians were quick to point out that there are direct causal links between certain exposures and certain cancers. Smokers tend to get lung cancer, for example, and those who love the sun face increased risks of skin cancer. Don’t get me started on specific things like asbestos.
Clearly, the cancer physicians are right, and are rightly pulling out their hair: certain exposures lead to increased risks of certain cancers.
Full stop. But the obverse is also true: all smokers don’t get lung cancer, and all sun worshippers don’t develop melanoma. In fact, almost everyone knows an outlier — someone who smokes like a tilt and seems to be fine, for example.
I think there’s actually some middle ground here — but my idea is not really all that scientific.
I think of it all as a giant crown-and-anchor carnival wheel, except one you don’t want to win.
Every day, we do things that spin the wheel: I like salami and other preserved meats, things that contain nitrites. As the Canadian Cancer Society points out, “The evidence is convincing that eating processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer. The reasons why eating processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer are currently being studied.”
A couple of slices of Genoa salami, and another spin.
You can smoke, and take the extra spins of the wheel that smoking entails. You can be exposed, day after day, to industrial contamination from a local plant — some of the exposed people might get cancer, others won’t. For those who do, a cell clicks over and starts the chain.
My mother, a biologist by training, used to use scientific-grade carbon tetrachloride as a spot remover. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes it like this: “Studies in animals have shown that ingestion of carbon tetrachloride increases the risk of liver cancer. EPA has classified carbon tetrachloride as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen.”
Maybe that mutagen triggered the cancer she developed.
Or maybe she — and my dad, for that matter — lost on the spin of the wheel that was the 1985 diethylene glycol adulterated wine scandal. I know they drank some of the wines — they pointed out one night during dinner, and, scientists both, emptied their glasses. Maybe that was the chemical spin that launched their eventually fatal tumours. Who knows?
I remember writing about people who were accidentally exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls — PCBs — and feared they’d get cancer, while at the same time having an electrical engineer tell me he didn’t believe that PCBs were a problem, and that he and his crew had washed their hands in PCB-laced transformer oil to get the creosote off their skin. I know another petroleum industry engineer who won’t let even a trace of refined petroleum products touch his skin, from Varsol to gas to anything in between.
You spin the wheel, you take a chance. A cell mutates in one of a number of ways, and you’re off to the cancer races.
What you do control, to some degree, is the number of spins you take. You lower your chances by not spinning the thing so often. But you just might lose on the very first spin.
Poignant and questioning, a letter in this week's Guardian:
Friend's Death Results in Questions - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Monday, January 26th, 2015
Twelve months ago a dear and respected friend lost his fight against cancer and died in the Summerside hospital. He had tried three years to survive by beating the cancer.
My friend was an experienced fisherman with lots of energy and physically active out on the ocean all day long. He did not smoke nor did he drink excessively. He lived outside the city in a rural home in East Prince, surrounded by trees, bushes and with a brook beside his house.
To me his place looked like an invitation for healthy living, in addition to his being a hard-working professional fisherman with a positive outlook on life.
One day he told me he had cancer and intended to beat it by taking all kinds of treatments. He fought for a few years, always staying optimistic. Several times he rejoiced that he was cured — but then the cancer came back and back again until
he finally died at a little over 50 years of age.
I moved from a polluted, industrial city workplace and life to live in P.E.I., the “Canadian green and gentle Island province,” surrounded by ocean, with clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe. The shocking death of my friend made me wonder and I find myself asking: “Why did he die?”
I know he died of cancer. But why, with his active lifestyle, at his young age, in his healthy environment — why did he get cancer?
Please, can someone answer this question?
The mother of his son died during the same week in the same hospital of cancer. His medical doctor who treated my friend died half year later of cancer. Am I concerned about P.E.I. cancer? Yes, because no one will speak up or research why, or what could be the cause.
Klaus Carter, Richmond
Despite our many issues with how we treat our Earth and the effects it has, here is the side of hope, from today's Global Chorus contributor, journalist and author Alanna Mitchell, who wrote Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis:
<snip>"We've become mired in a story whose end we fear is already written. Science tells us, correctly, that if we keep going down the track we're on, we will impair the planer's ability to support life as we know it......<snip>...."
She says if we drop our fear and adopt forgiveness...
"What if we use that power to feed the highest human superpower: forgiveness. What if we forgive ourselves and each other and our species for having really screwed up? What if, instead of a story of disaster for humanity, we write a tale of magnificent redemption?
"And then just get on with making something better." --Alanna Mitchell
The public library has a copy of her book, and the local bookstores would order it in, too.
The Winter Woodlot Tour set for Brookvale Nordic ski area is postponed until Saturday, February 14th.
Roy Johnstone, Argyle Shore resident and world-renowned fiddler, is playing with the PEI Symphony Orchestra Sunday, at Zion Presbyterian Church (corner of Grafton and Prince). Tickets are still available.
January 30, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today's Global Chorus is from Maria Fadiman, an American ethnobotanist (studies the scientific relationship between people and plants) and National Geographic "Emerging Explorer." She studies plants with medical and cultural significance in the rainforests of Ecuador.
"Whether in the rainforest or the city, awareness of our disconnection and the possibility for reconnection is the first step. We can each take it from there." -- Maria Fadiman
More info on Dr. Fadiman:
Here is a link to a recent poll for a Federal election, and lower on the same page is an introduction from 2008 by the page's author Eric Grenier. He calls the website www.threehundredeight.com ("308 dot com"), which refers to the number of seats in our Parliament. This poll and its interpretation point out the difference between popular vote and how that is not reflected in the seat count (due to our "first past the post" system).
Screenshot from the website "www.threehundredeight.com" about results of recent poll, both popular vote and projected seat wins.
Marie Burge wrote this excellent piece published earlier this week:
Good government over politics - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Marie Burge
Published on Monday, January 26th, 2015, in The Guardian
Some people like politics: I like good government. So said Olive Crane as she ended a great political career, marked with courageous stands, and an amazing capacity to listen to and serve many people. Unfortunately her chosen party opted to reward her loyalty and service with unreasonable mistreatment. In spite of the disrespect of her party, we can expect that Olive will continue to make her mark in Island history. Olive’s statement is a challenge to all Islanders. We need meditate on this as we go into provincial and federal elections in the coming months.
Parties’ “backroom boys” and candidate handlers are well into gearing up with messages which will convince enough people to vote for their party. What does this have to do with good government? Not much. Party pollsters try to gauge what might “turn voters on” and they sculpt their platforms almost solely on that.
Most parties seem to be caught up in this “game” of counting votes, rather than forming good policies for governing which would benefit the majority. Or worse still, they are simply trying to tear down an opposing candidate in an attempt to win voters. How sad is that.
What’s wrong with the following scenario: An elected politician in forceful language told a pro-livable-income group just yesterday that to put definite policies for poverty elimination on an election platform would ensure that the politician would be defeated in the next election. What a dim view this is of the capacity of Islanders for critical political analysis. I know from experience that Islanders are much brighter than that.
Many people have given up on party politics. I realize that those who have given up will likely not be reading this opinion piece.
Almost all political parties are encouraged to engage in some form of election skullduggery. They all deserve to be harshly criticized for their part in that. But that does not mean that all parties are the same. Our questions have to be: what are the parties’ proposed policies which they would honestly put in place if they end up being the government? We have to dig below the surface of political forums, campaign speeches, ads and posters.
Our question: whose ear does the particular party have and want? Is it the one per cent or the 99 per cent? Is it the corporate industrial farm sector or the family-based ecologically responsible food producers? Is it the well-heeled professional/business sector or the almost 40% of Islanders who earn under $20,000/yr? When we ask these questions we have to be careful to avoid narrowmindedly pitting one end of the spectrum against the other.
People who don’t want to deal with these questions often frame their response like this: so you want to destroy the rich, the corporate elite, the well off. In fact we may simply be asking that the wealthy classes pay their fair share. We may simply be asking that government policy be drawn up based on the interests of all the people. The rich and the powerful have no exclusive right to the ear of government. Good governments will give priority to the least powerful. Every policy, whether social, economic or environmental must be designed to respond to the living conditions of all sectors.
Party loyalty which is unquestioning can do a great deal of harm to any progress we are making in learning and practising democracy. We don’t need party slogans. We need people-centered, eco-centered party policies which will be enacted to create good government.
Olive Crane has been true to her principles and has had people at the centre of her actions and statements as a politician. Let’s remember the meaning Olive Crane’s words: Some people like politics: I like good government.
Marie Burge, Mermaid, is a member of the Cooper Institute, a P.E.I. education and community development centre.
Tonight is a meet-and-greet with PC leadership candidate Darlene Compton, in Summerside at Credit Union Place, postponed from earlier this week.
The next PC leadership town hall forum is Tuesday in Bloomfield. A snippet in today's Guardian mentioned that candidate James Aylward emphatically supported keeping the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture in place.
All three PC leaders will be speaking today at the PEI Federation of Agriculture AGM, as will Liberal leader-designate Wade MacLauchlan. No other party leaders were invited.
Next week will see the District 17 (Cumberland-Kelly's Cross) Liberal and PC nomination meetings.
The Liberal nomination meeting is Thursday, February 4th, at Crapaud Hall. Valerie Docherty, who helped bring the Plan B Highway to this District, and knows more about the "Mystery Project" in Hampton/DeSable than she chooses to share, is reoffering. Wade MacLauchlan, leader-designate, is speaking.
The PCs are meeting Friday, February 6th, at Afton Hall. Randy Robar is offering, and I am not clear if there are other candidates.
I don't know the dates of the Green and NDP nominating meetings yet.
January 29, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight starts the first of four "town hall" meetings of the three Progressive Conservative Party of PEI leadership candidates.
screenshot from the PC PEI website
The three candidates are:
and the meetings are (all 7PM, 90 minutes long):
tonight, Kaylee Hall, Poole's Corner
next Tuesday, February 3rd, Bloomfield,
Wednesday, February 4th, Summerside,
Tuesday, February 10th, Cornwall
Not as extensive, say, as Horace Carver's Commission stops; the candidates are attending various District nomination meetings and their own activities in between.
You can send a question to the candidates via this website (scroll down a bit for the form):
The last day to register to vote for the PC leadership is Friday, February 6th, by 4PM. Membership is for two-years and is $10 for adults, $25 for a family, $5 for a Youth 14 or older. Anyone 14 years or older is eligible to vote for leader.
Mike Redmond from the NDP PEI and Peter Bevan-Baker of Green Party PEI will presumably run in their particular districts in an upcoming provincial election, and as party leaders, they will highlight the difference in policies and vision between their parties and those represented by PEI Liberal leader-designate Wade MacLauchlan. If one wants to have a say in who of the three PC leadership candidates will run under the PC banner against the other party leaders, one could consider purchasing a membership and voting either at the convention (Saturday, February 28th, at the UPEI gym), one of the advance polls, or by mail-in ballot. It sounds like one can vote in the PC leadership contest and then contact the PC office anytime after to have one's name removed from the party's list.
Most of the nuts and bolts information is here:
Some other events:
Saturday, January 31st, Winter Woodlot Tour, 9AM to 1PM, Brookvale Nordic (off route 13), free. A myriad of wintery demonstrations and activities, sponsored by local watershed groups. More info:
and another fantastic watershed-sponsored event:
Thursday, February 12, Valentine's 25-mile Dinner, DeBlois Community Centre, 6:30PM. The Cascumpec Bay Watershed group is hosting a wonderful fundraiser of a meal with all ingredients within a 25 mile radius of the area. Tickets for couples are $40 and will help with their restoration projects. Call John Lane at (902) 853-2090; there are a limited number of tickets.
There are many other events listed on the Citizens' Alliance Clearinghouse Calendar:
Jonathan Legg is an American actor who hosts a show called The Road Less Travelled about little-known places, and sports the best permanent two-days' beard of any Global Chorus contributor, I would bet. Here is his website:
We writes in the January 30 Global Chorus, tying together the swamp of mainstream media causing fear and anxiety in consumers, with the rise of the alternative media that spreads useful information:
"Through Twitter, blogs, short online videos and other devices, information is being shared like never before. A common person with a concern of cause can now reach anyone on the planet who has an internet connection.<snip> The more voices that join this global chorus, the further we will grasp how interconnected we all are and the closer we will get to grappling with the realities of our modern world." -- Johnathan Legg
January 28, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Robert Bateman is a (the) Canadian naturalist and painter, and at 84 is extremely active working and speaking out.
He is the voice for today's January 28th Global Chorus essay.
He reminds us that our main problem is philosophical, and we just need the will to change our world. He offers three suggestions:
"We need a critical mass of people to pay attention to issues." Ask questions and demand transparency.
"We do not need any more studies or commissions to solve problems."
"A general philosophy of respect be very helpful: respect for Nature and respect for other humans."
His words are more extensive, strong and beautiful (just like his paintings), but there is the thumbnail sketch, a brilliant thumbnail.
Thanks to Todd MacLean for this book's concept and for pulling it all together.
LeadNow is committed to three main issues in the next election Federal election -- fair voting, a just economy, and a protected environment. They feel that's not possible if the current government is reelected.
Here is a short and snappy one minute video on the concept of strategic voting, from the folks at LeadNow.ca. Thanks to James for bringing that to my attention.
If you find yourself with a second storm day and some time, consider watching this 18 minute video -- it is a TED talk recorded two years ago by James Hansen, a NASA planetary scientist who was has been studying global warming for decades. It is called "Why I Must Speak Out About Climate Change."
"Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future."
The transcript, if you only have a chance to read that, is here:
And I thank Carlo Hengst for bringing that to my attention.
And a thanks to Ranald MacFarlane, for being the change, in a world that's changing in other directions:
Sustainable farming a thing of the past - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Friday, January 23rd, 2015
In response to the letter from CropLife Canada, I would counter the statement about farming being more sustainable than it ever has been before. In P.E.I. we have about 20 per cent of our families being known to be food insecure. This means they don’t have enough food.
Meanwhile in the last 10 years I have had millions of pounds of potatoes dumped on my farm because they did not colour properly for french fry making or just were not taken even though there was a contract. I have pictures and witnesses.
There is nothing wrong with them but there is no avenue to get them to any type of market apparently. A million lbs. of potatoes could feed a lot of hungry people.
I did my former neighbors a huge favour by composting them. It was a complete nuisance and a huge effort was required to mitigate the stink. Rotting potatoes smell like death.
The land is mostly all on two-year rotation here in Fernwood. This is not good farming. There is constant soil erosion. There is fungicide smell in the air all summer. Houses get sprayed by drift. In my opinion people should not live here.
If I walk or ride a bike I am breathing ambient second-hand fungicide. If this were the CropLife version of sustainable farming I would hate to see what they call unsustainable.
CropLife does not like activist groups attacking farmers. They say it is disrespectful. Fine. I am an Ag College grad who is a dairy farmer, pig farmer and who has worked part time in the industrial potato business for 30 years. I consider that as credentials, and I am allowed to have an opinion.
Ranald MacFarlane, Fernwood
January 27, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
This part of today's Citizens' Alliance News edges into personal opinion:
The Saturday Guardian's top cover story was an interview with John Clements, who was chief conservation officer for the Province.
The article gives voice to many of his thoughts, and draws on his depth of experience. It's all very interesting and he has much to add.
One remark at the end could easily have been clipped if the article proved too long for page layout.
He remarked (full text below):
"I have been around long enough to have forgotten more in a week than Janice Sherry (Environment Minister) will ever know."
The Guardian printed this as a large subheadline on the front page:
"I forget more last week than (Environment Minister) Janice Sherry will ever know." Former chief conservation officer John Clements.
I winced when I read that, especially when I read the story and realized that it had been plucked out and reworded for the front page.
screenshot from digital edition of Saturday's Guardian January 24th, 2015.
It's pretty clear that Minister Sherry is not as attuned or versed with the Environment part of her portfolio as with the Justice and Labour part, but she has lived up to her "my door is always open" promise to meet with concerned citizens about environmental issues. Not that meeting would solve the issue, but she doesn't just ignore people who want her to improve her environmental protection.
The Plan B opponents (including me) have been most critical of Janice Sherry, of course for approving the highway project, in the face of over 300 written submissions in the Environmental Impact Assessment imploring her to reject it. Presumably, she approved it to keep her job. Many bright environmentally-minded people all throughout government held their personal opinions on Plan B, too, likely for the same reason. :-/
I see two issues here:
it appears that some of her staff have left her uninformed and unprepared. In Spring 2013 (I think), then-PC Opposition member Hal Perry asked her during Question Period in the Provincial Legislature if she had read the province's Environmental Protection Act, and she admitted she hadn't read the whole thing. I wondered why staff didn't advise her and help her make time for important background. Her mentioning about a year ago that the Potato Board would have to "educate" Islanders about high capacity wells also pointed at poor staff support leading to unprepared remarks.
the bigger problem is who made the decision to put her in this portfolio anyway; the one who appointed George Webster back in 2007 (remember the Minister of Pop?), "dammed" Richard Brown there after the PNP implosion, and then ripped out Forestry and put the remaining chunk into the dog's breakfast that is Environment, Justice and Labour. Those decisions of course belong to Premier Ghiz.
But governments can be reorganized, and some leadership from different Premiers can improve how Ministers are supported and improve the decisions they make.
I think it was an unfortunate decision for The Guardian to arrange that front page headline montage, when on the obituary page the same day is the notice of her father-in-law's passing.
The Red Rain Dance - The Guardian article by Steve Sharratt
Size matters in protection efforts on Prince Edward Island
I forgot more last week than (Environment Minister) Janice Sherry will ever know -- Former chief conservation officer John Clements.
MONTAGUE — Never before have Islanders feared the rain — until now.
Moisture is always a welcome relief from the heat and always good for the crops, but not when it arrives with such fury that it brings flooding to the capital city, farm field erosion and dreaded fish kills. “We used to welcome the rain but now people actually fear what it might bring,’’ says John Clements. “And if we don’t do something now ... things will only get worse.”
Clements penned a letter to the editor of The Guardian last summer offering comment on the fishkills that have happened here like clockwork for the past four years. While he’s not alone in his opinion, he is alone in his credibility. After serving as chief of conservation for the P.E.I. Department of Environment for roughly 17 years, and three years as a former federal fisheries officer, he’s no armchair quarterback. And while watching the outcome of the North River fishkill investigation which ended up dispensing a $3,000 fine to Brookfield Gardens last week, Clements, now retired, offered up his own recommendations.
“We need 30-metre buffer zones across the province ... simple as that.” That’s twice the current buffer zone legislation; so size may very well matter when it comes to protecting Island waterways.
The August fishkill had nothing to do with pesticides and everything to do with buffer zones and a steep slope. The Brookfield farm operation was charged with cultivating a crop too close to a watercourse and the discovery surprised many across the province — including farm operator Eddie Dykerman — because this is a farm family considered one of the best when it comes to environmental stewardship. Brookfield Farms even posts their commitment to good stewardship on their website. But last August didn’t help. It was open season on any exposed soil from farm field to dirt road.
In the official report filed by the Department of Environment, it was Wednesday, Aug. 6 when 23 mm of rain pounded down within 40 minutes in the Brookfield Gardens area in North Wiltshire. That’s almost two inches in less than an hour. Another two inches descended over the next 24 hours and three days later volunteers were collecting dead fish. More than 1,000 dead fish were gathered up but that represents only a portion of the estimated 5,000 to 10,000 killed. The report also says the streambed was covered in a “film of fine sediment”.
Such extreme weather is a relative newcomer to Island shores and the Climate Change lab at UPEI, with its video game CLIVE (Coastal Impacts Visualization Environment) which allows users to identify vulnerable areas affected by sea level rise, told public meetings across the province last year that we better get used to it. “Every summer the heavy rains come, little happens to prevent it, and the province responds to dead fish once again,” said Clements. “I get pretty frustrated to see no headway being made.”
Clements says even a 15-metre buffer couldn’t have stopped the freight train of rain that roared down that slope. He comes by his environmental pedigree naturally. His late father, Kenny, was the chief of the Montague Fire Department and an avid fish and wildlife advocate. His late uncle Gilbert Clements, the province’s first environment minister, relished the position and implemented many of the current environmental regulations in this province today.
“Charges never make the difference,” said the former conservation officer. “It’s the penalty for what happens that make the changes.”
Agricultural writer and former broadcaster Ian Petrie agrees with a 30-metre buffer and even suggests 40 metres would help in some situations. However, such an effort would take significant land out of production — an estimated 19,000 acres.
“Is such a large buffer needed in every field? No, I think a better solution right now would be to establish true riparian zones with shrubs and trees in the 15metre buffer; something established and permanent,” Petrie said. Petrie is no stranger to reporting on fish kills and rivers running red over the years and says the change in the weather and the ferocity of storms cannot be dismissed. He said the fishkill incident only emphasizes the fragile balance between farming practices and healthy waterways.
“The Dykerman’s are responsible farmers and yet it happened to them,’’ he said. “I doubt there will ever be a problem from that operation again.” Petrie, a board member of the Montague River Watershed Enhancement, says the power of the weather has grown over the past number of years and he cites the fury that struck western P.E.I. in early December.
“We certainly haven’t seen the buckling and breaking of roads and washout of bridges like we did last month ... so that’s certainly more severe than normal.” Some streams of thought would say the loss of thousands of fish can be ignored or deplored. Clements says it’s a serious loss to the resource when top soil pours into streams and kills thousands of fish that cost money to rear and release.
“When a farm like Brookfield Gardens gets charged it raises eyebrows and may make some people re-assess how they are doing things,’’ said John Jamieson of the Federation of Agriculture. “The Dykerman’s are top notch farmers and one of the first to try a new approach to environmental stewardship.”
Of course, not all rivers and streams are close to farms or dirt roads and therefore escape soil invasion. Some waterways on P.E.I. don’t run red; like the Morell River which has a legislated green belt to protect it — a buffer zone that is 60-metres wide. “The 60-metre green belt is what has saved the Morell River from some of the impacts that other watersheds have experienced from heavy rain events” said Becky Peterson, project co-ordinator for the Morell River Management Coop. “Of all the areas that have I have seen run red in a heavy rain event, it is by far (the) clay roads that are at the source of the sediment. We have work to do as a group to deal with these sources as well as the agricultural sources.”
“I don’t think a 15-metre buffer is enough in a long sloped field,’’ said Fred Cheverie of the Eastern Kings watershed group. “The local council here installed a 60-metre buffer on all of East Lake and most of North Lake. "In our area, a lot of silt enters from clay roads, more than farm fields really. But an increased buffer zone is only one tool in the box.”
Clements says the creation of 30-metre buffer zones will cost (it’s a lot of acreage that government would have to buy) but it’s necessary “for one of the most beautiful places” on earth. The advocacy for a 30metre buffer zone isn’t new, it was a recommendation in the 1997 Round Table on Resource Land Use, the 2007 Justice Armand DesRoches water and nitrate report, and in the 2010 Commissioner’s Report on Land and Local Governance, by the late Judge Ralph Thompson. “There’s all kinds of really good farmers and I know them, but we all have to accept that there are changes in the environment that we must respond to ... places are getting flooded and we have to change some of our practices,” Clements said.
Clements said some farmers have recognized the problems and have voluntarily created larger buffer zones, but the “political will” is weak when the minister of agriculture is a potato farmer and another minister is married to one.
“There is significant farming impact in cabinet today and they carry the power. When I did my job I treated everyone fairly, but many concerns and issues were simply brushed off during my tenure. I’ve been around long enough to have forgotten more last week than Janice Sherry (Environment Minister) will ever know.”
“When I grew up on the Island, the rivers didn’t turn red,” he said. “We all know the heavy rains aren’t going to stop ... so take the extra land ( for buffer zones), avoid the bad press, and save the fish and the rivers.”
A young woman with the improbable name of Lauren Bush Lauren is today's Global Chorus contributor. Having travelled and seen hunger among children first-hand:
She first created the FEED 1 Bag, a reversible burlap and organic cotton bag reminiscent of the bags of food distributed by WFP, to help raise funds and awareness around these school feeding operations. It was stamped with "FEED the children of the world" and the number '1' to signify that each bag provides enough meals to feed one child in school for one year.
Yes, she is related to the Bush family in the U.S. Her father is Neil Bush, son of George H.W. and Barbara Bush (and younger brother of George W. and "Jeb"). Her branch seems a bit different, her father fighting against poorly thought out educational models and the fast-track of labeling and medicating children who don't fit in. (She married a member of the Ralph Lauren family, hence the echo name.)
"Ultimately, I believer the foundation for real and lasting global change is universal empathy. If our world is connected through a shared Earth, it must be connected through a shared compassion and common sense of human dignity. It really boils down to the Golden Rule: 'treat others as you would like to be treated.' If the world could abide by that simple rule, many of the daunting challenges we face today would go away. But in the meantime, it is up to each of us to come up with our own ideas and solutions." --Lauren Bush Lauren
January 26, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Finance Minister Wes Sheridan may not be re-offering for his District, but the budget must be done up. The provincial government is asking the public for input on their next provincial budget.
There are a couple of ways:
You can appear in-person at public meetings (they are public, but you still need to register).
from the government press release:
Anyone interested in attending these pre-budget roundtables can register by calling (902) 368-5501 before (Friday) January 30. The sessions will run from 2 to 4 p.m. as follows:
• Wednesday, February 4, Charlottetown (storm date of February 13);
• Friday, February 6, Montague (storm date of February 19);
• Wednesday, February 11, O’Leary (storm date of February 18); and
• Thursday, February 12, Summerside (storm date of February 20) – French interpretation services available.
Islanders can also provide budget feedback through:
• an online questionnaire at www.gov.pe.ca/budgetsubmissions; or
• in writing – prior to 4 p.m. on February 20 –
or by mail at:
Minister of Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs
PO Box 2000
95 Rochford Street, 2nd Floor, Shaw Building
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
From that excellent cluster of environmentally-related letters late last week:
Anecdotal evidence connecting pesticides to cancer clear in this case - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published Thursday, January 23rd, 2015, in The Guardian
On January 10, Dr. Ron Matsusaki spoke at a public forum in Alberton about his experience while working as an ER physician there. The main gist of his talk was connecting pesticide exposure to cancer. Since the forum, where he spoke to a crowd of 170 concerned citizens, there have been positive and negative comments, with most of the negative ones discounting Dr. Matsusaki’s experiences as ‘anecdotal.’ This is a term I hear over and over again from people who choose to believe pesticides are safe. But anecdotal evidence is valuable. The combination of the anecdotal evidence backed up by science has convinced me, along with a growing number of informed islanders, that our high cancer rates are connected to our addiction to pesticides.
It is anecdotal evidence that is the basis for discovery. Dr. Ron was shocked not only by the number of cancer patients he treated, but also by multiple family members with cancer, many of them children. He was curious as to why this might be the case here and nowhere else he had worked during his career. This led him to investigate further. I don’t think it is a coincidence that many of the cancers Dr. Ron treated in Alberton are the same ones the Canadian Cancer Society and thousands of other peer-reviewed, scientific studies have connected to pesticide exposure. This excerpt from the Canadian Cancer Society (2014) affirms the connection between Dr. Ron’s findings and science: “...there is an increasingly likely connection between pesticide exposure and cancers such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (especially among farmers), multiple myeloma, and prostate, kidney and lung cancers. Studies on pesticides and childhood cancer show a possible connection with leukemia, brain tumours and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” In 2014 the Canadian Cancer Society reported that P.E.I. has the highest mortality rate for prostate cancer in the country, 35% higher than the national average.
Islanders can choose to believe that Dr. Ron’s anecdotal experience isn’t meaningful or relevant. In my opinion to do so is to our detriment. It is the equivalent of ignoring the canary dying in the coalmine.
Joan Diamond, Fairview
Jamie Oliver, the Chef Jamie Oliver, wrote for the January 26th essay for Global Chorus. OK, there is a footnote that it was assembled from excerpts and approved by his PR person, but Jamie is obviously a busy guy, and what he wrote (even if not specifically for Global Chorus) is enlightening.
"I believe that even the best governments can only think short-term -- as far as the next election or, at best, the one after. Big problems that will take decades to solve are overwhelming, and the likelihood is that by the time things get really bad, the other guy will be in power. So I'm pretty sure a lot of them think that big solutions can wait. They can't." -- Jamie Oliver
January 25, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
From Friday's Guardian:
The environment must take priority - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Friday, January 23rd, 2015
The simple act of breathing in and breathing out should give us pause to remember our essential connection to the Earth. The air, the water and the soil feed us. We are a part of nature. What threatens the Earth, threatens us. The threats to our air, water and soil are all around us. Snow and ice caps are melting, our sources of drinking water are shrinking, sea levels are rising, droughts, floods, wind storms are more frequent and powerful. Here in P.E.I., the health of our soil and water is eroding from industrial agriculture, fish kills are more devastating, we are drinking chemical fertilizers in our water. These events are reported on regularly but we are failing to connect the threads of industrialization and mindless consumerism to the destructive pattern of climate change.
We have reached the point of crisis for our environment. Yet there continues to be no political leadership on what is the most significant issue of our time. Politics continues to be largely governed by economic interests. And economic interest is the driver of the large industries responsible for eroding the air, water and soil. We need leadership at all levels to start turning this critical situation around. Government must reflect a critical concern about the environment in every piece of legislation and every contract it enters into. Nothing must erode government's ability to protect the environment.
The failure to put the environment first will lead to destroying what is necessary for life on Earth. There will be no economy which can save us then.
Lou Richard, Charlottetown
Today's Global Chorus is so fantastic that I am typing it out its entirety, instead of just a "word-bite" or so. Even though it's written from the point of view of an American, not a Canadian, it applies everywhere. It's by Mark Reynolds, executive director of the Citizens' Climate Lobby:
We can restore the climate of the 1980s by 2070. It won't require a miracle or big sacrifices, just the will and policies to do it. Top climate scientists confirm this is possible. They haven't proposed it before because it has appeared that we, as a society, would never muster the courage to do it.
Restoring the climate requires that we switch to carbon-free energy by 2030-2050, as described by Stanford's Mark Z. Jacobson, and let the ocean continue absorbing the carbon dioxide we've emitted.
In 1961, President Kennedy declared: "We will send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade." At the time, we had just sent a man into space for 15 minutes. We did not have the rockets, the navigation or the life support systems for a moon trip and most people, including my parents, thought it was a complete folly. Seven years later we had developed and demonstrated the technology -- ahead of schedule. We had a clear, ambitious goal and a deadline, and we rose to the occasion.
Twenty years is plenty of time to develop the missing links such as batteries, smart grids and domestic manufacturing capability. Compare that to the five years we spent building the 300,000 aircraft that helped us win the Second World War using 1940s technology, or the seven years developing the technology for the moon program with 1960s technology. We now have Google, computers, 3D printers and millions of highly educated engineers connected by the Internet.
Tell your children, your nation's leaders and your representatives which legacy you want to give to our grandkids: restore the climate by 2070. That is our moon shot. Let's commit to it.
If you wish to send this on to:
Premier Ghiz, as he still has a month of officially being Premier
The leader-designate of the Liberal Party, Wade MacLauchlan:
The leader of the Island New Democrats, Mike Redmond:
The three Progressive Conservative candidates:
James Aylward email@example.com
Darlene Compton firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Lantz email@example.com
The Green Party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker:
(The House is adjourned until this coming week)
Lawrence MacAulay firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Casey email@example.com
Wayne Easter firstname.lastname@example.org
Gail Shea email@example.com
P.E.I. Senators: (also adjourned until early this week)
Percy Downe firstname.lastname@example.org
Libby Hubley email@example.com
(not bothering with Mike Duffy)
Tom Mulcair, federal leader of the NDP (e-mail comment boxes are listed on the following URLs:) http://www.ndp.ca/contact
Justin Trudeau, federal leader of the Liberals https://www.liberal.ca/contact/
Elizabeth May, federal leader of the Green Party https://www.greenparty.ca/en/contact
and, of course, Prime Minister Harper:
U.S. President Obama, who said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, No other issue is as important to address as Climate Change.
For more interesting information from the Citizens' Climate Lobby website, go to:
Tuesday, January 27th, 8:30-10:30PM, Simulcast, a forum called "Putting a Price on Carbon (to reduce our carbon footprint)", moderated by Stephen Lewis. It will be available at the above website. You may remember the words from Mr. Lewis' Symons lecture, referring to the oil sands and its effect on climate change: "LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND!" (direct quote from the text of his speech: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/media/flying/1168/file/2014-11-21%20Symons%20Lecture.pdf)
P.S. Today at 2PM is the Arts and Culture Roundtable with Liberal leadership-designate Wade MacLauchlan, Arts Guild, featuring Patrick Ledwell, Teresa Doyle, Todd MacLean, and Harmony Wagner;
and the Bonshaw ceilidh is the same time at the Bonshaw Hall, with proceeds to Sierra Club's Wild Child nature immersion program.
January 24, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Carl Honore is a Canadian journalist and advocate of The Slow Movement. He writes in today's Global Chorus entry, about improving our world, first by redefining success:
"Consuming more should cease to be the measure of a good life. Instead, we must build a culture that prizes meaning and connection <snip>.
"The most powerful way to bring about this cultural revolution is to slow down. When we live in fast forward, we struggle to look beyond out own selfish, short-term desires. Decelerating can help us see the big picture. <snip>
"Bottom line: the only way to save this fast world is to slow down." -- Carl Honere
about his work:
A 19-minute TED Talk by Carl Honere on "In Praise of Slowness.":
Related? Expanded "SuperWalmarts" with complete grocery stores are having their official openings in Charlottetown and Summerside today ("with a lot of emphasis on local food," said their spokesman in a press release in today's paper, referring to some Maritime brands being stocked). It is likely consumers are urged to rush right over.
This young woman was the Senate page who held up the "Stop Harper" sign in the Senate in June of 2011. (an opinion by a local youth said the image may be a "photoshop" creation, but it makes its point.)
Bridgette DePape is now 25, and has just been named the Council of Canadians' National Youth Vote Organizer.
from their announcement and donation drive:
Brigette told (Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians' chair), “I want the morning headlines after the election to read: Young voters turn out in record numbers, elect progressive new government.”
The Guardian printed several environmental-related letters yesterday. All of them were fantastic. I am not sure if the batching was accidental or planned. I will reprint them over the next few days, starting with this excellent opinion by western P.E.I. shellfisher, and member of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, Malcolm Pitre:
Department wrong about anoxic event at Montrose River? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Malcolm Pitre
Published on Friday, January 23rd, 2015
I have been fighting water quality issues for the past five years. As a shell fisher for the past 14 years I have seen rivers and bays in some cases become dead zones. The government of P.E.I. has a responsibility to the people and the environment. From what I have seen the department of Environment Labour and Justice have received the memo, but continue to ignore serious water quality issues on Prince Edward Island. Do your job.
I want to share this story with all Islanders. On Oct. 20, 2014 I was travelling across the Montrose Bridge in western P.E.I. As I crossed the bridge I looked up river and saw discoloured water. I thought to myself it was likely the sun shinning off the water. I kept on driving. I had not driven very far when my gut told me to go back. After turning around and taking a better look I confirmed my initial thought. A huge portion of the river was discoloured.
I called the environment department up to report the incident and than I called Cindy Chant from the West Prince Graphic to take a look. Ms. Chant took a great photo of this event. She later called the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice to get a statement.
This is what was issued: The department, “is aware of the ongoing issues with the Montrose River.”.... “This particular event appears to be related to high tides being pushed up into the fresh water part of the upper river.”...” It is not related to the nutrient issues in the estuary as seen earlier in the season.” (Department of Environment Labour and Justice).
When I read this article two days later, I said to myself, that is wrong. I have seen anoxic events before and to me that event was one. My problem was how could I prove it? My answer was Mike Coffin, a PhD student at UPEI who is studying the effects of nutrients on dissolved oxygen in estuaries. I saw Mike frequently throughout the spring and summer months and he explained what his research was for. I asked Mr. Coffin if he had any info regarding what I saw on Oct. 20, 2014.
This is what he shared with me. “I have equipment deployed in the Montrose branch of the Kildare River that measures dissolved oxygen in the water column every hour. This equipment was deployed in May and is maintained weekly. Anoxic events occur frequently in this area and can last days. One such event began in the early morning of Oct. 19 and continued till Oct. 21, 2014. Although oxygen normally fluctuates in estuaries, sustained low oxygen is a common symptom from nutrient enrichment.”
With this evidence from Mike Coffin, who had equipment deployed and measured, I am asking that the Department of Environment Labour and Justice apologize to the residents of West Prince and to all residents of P.E.I. I demand that this department admit they were wrong for issuing this statement with no concrete evidence.
Malcolm Pitre of Christopher Cross has been a shellfisher for the past 14 years and an activist on water quality issues for the past five years.
January 23, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Cheryl Charles, an author and educator in Minnesota, starts her essay for the January 23rd page of Global Chorus with the words,
"We face an urgent need on a worldwide basis to reconnect people with Nature, beginning with children. That connection with Nature is at the heart of what I call, 'the ecology of hope.'
<snip> Ecologies don't talk about hope; they demonstrate it. So can humans. Our actions will inspire and support others. We can exercise the will, we can make conscious choices, we can cultivate a sense of efficacy in ourselves and others -- especially in children and youth --and we can create a positive, healthy and life sustaining future." -- Cheryl Charles
On the Children and Nature website is a news page with the the lead article from Finland documenting that even 20 minutes a day in nature has positive health effects.
This is pretty obvious to most of us, even though many Islanders feel they get plenty of nature in winter. There is an old saying, "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."
The Sierra Club Atlantic has a program helping kids get out into nature.
The proceeds from this Sunday's Bonshaw Ceilidh (2-4PM) are going to towards this project.
A kind soul mentioned that one could hardly crow about The Fraser Institute's very low rating of Robert Ghiz's performance as Premier, when criticizing most of their extremely conservative opinion or backlash pieces in The Guardian.
January 22, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today's Guardian has an article this morning that mentions the backlog in the privacy commissioner's office and how that's affecting her investigation of a file regarding leaked e-mails regarding the Provincial Nominee Program. (This was all during the 2011 election campaign, just swirling in a media mix.) The e-mails and and a media release discrediting the writers were issued by the Liberal Party of PEI. The story is printed at the end of this e-mail.
Leader-designate of the Liberal Party of PEI Wade MacLauchlan yesterday on CBC's Island Morning said basically that PNP was done being an issue, that the public decided by re-electing the Robert Ghiz government in 2011 that it wasn't an issue, and he wants to move forward. Presumably that means he and the Liberal Party are unlikely to call for a PNP Inquiry.
The January 22nd Global Chorus essay comes from arctic explorer, mountain climber and photographer Sebastian Copeland:
<snip> A treacherous by-product of urban convenience is a false sense of security and the utter disconnect from our individual footprint. What is the actual cost of the resources we consume? How much trash do we generate? What is the environmental impact of the food we eat, and how far does it travel to reach us? We have conveniently removed ourselves from connecting with those issues by squeezing them all into a little envelope we call a bill. But paying for problems to go away does not make them disappear.
Ours is less an environmental problem than it is a sociological and perceptual. More than ever our chances for survival, here is this biosphere, require an emotional bond with the ecosystem that sustains us. We need to reconnect with Nature and commit urgently to the principles of sustainability. That is the next logical phase of our adaptation cycle in evolutionary terms. <snip> -- Sebastian Copeland
Sebastian Copeland's photography gallery (including amazing iceberg images) is found here:
Some events upcoming:
Saturday, January 24th, Social for Gardeners (and Hopeful Gardeners), Noon - 3PM, Farm Centre, Charlottetown.
Sunday, January 25th, Roundtable on Arts and Culture with Liberal leader-designate Wade MacLauchlan, 2-4PM, Arts Guild. The panel will include Patrick Ledwell, Teresa Doyle, Todd MacLean, and Harmony Wagner (quite the line-up!), with moderator Alan Buchanan. Refreshments.
Sunday, January 25th, Bonshaw Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, a wonderful mix of entertainers, and lunch with biscuits from a particular near-daily newsletter writer. All proceeds going to PEI Sierra Club's Wild Child (nature immersion program).
Guardian story (bold is mine):
Three-year probe into leaked PNP emails ongoing - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Published on Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
Privacy commissioner Maria MacDonald confirms file is still active
More than three years have passed, but P.E.I.’s privacy commissioner is still investigating an information leak during the last provincial election involving the P.E.I. Liberal Party and emails from a whistleblower in the Provincial Nominee Program.
Privacy Commissioner Maria MacDonald confirmed to The Guardian this week the file is still active. “It’s still under investigation,” MacDonald said.
In September of 2011, in the middle of the provincial election campaign, the P.E.I. Liberal party released to the media a series of private emails that had been sent to former Innovation Minister Allan Campbell’s private ministerial account.
The emails were accompanied by a news release from the party, attempting to discredit three former provincial civil servants who were making serious allegations of fraud and bribery involving the Provincial Nominee Program. The emails were penned by one of the informants, Svetlana Tenetko, to Campbell, discussing her views on the PNP and hardships she endured as a result of not having her contract renewed with the provincial government. They were sent to Campbell’s ministerial email account. They were also marked ‘confidential.’
Premier Robert Ghiz told media at the time the emails were leaked to the Liberal party anonymously. He said he didn’t know where they came from because they came in a brown envelope. The leak of these emails came just a few days after Tenetko and two other former civil servants who forwarded allegations of bribery and fraud involving the immigrant investor program to the federal department in Ottawa. Ottawa, in turn, sent the allegations to the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to investigate. Both agencies have since closed their probes with no charges.
But when the contents of a number of private emails appeared in the media a few days after the whistleblowers first emerged, MacDonald told The Guardian she was concerned.
Cora Plourd was another one of the three informants. She was the one who petitioned to the privacy commissioner to launch a formal investigation.
She told The Guardian this week she is saddened by her whole involvement in the program. She worked directly on PNP files at the government agency that approved business applications to the program.
“This whole PNP story and side stories is a sad sordid tale,” Plourd wrote.
“I don’t think the truth will ever come out, but I still live with the hope that other people with more information than we had will do the right thing.” She expressed frustration at the length of time the privacy commissioner’s investigation has taken, pointing out legislation that dictates a 30-day response period.
Privacy laws prevent her from saying much, but MacDonald did say this week that despite the fact it has been more than three years, a decision is not expected anytime soon. “It’s no secret that I am facing quite a backlog here, so I’m still working on a number of files,” she said. “I don’t expect it to be (resolved) in the short term.”
January 21, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Yesterday was the last day for any persons to apply to run for leadership of the P.E.I. Liberal Party, and as Wade MacLauchlan is the only person who did, he becomes "leader-designate." Keith Kennedy of Charlottetown had worked on running, but ended his campaign recently. Keith is a strong critic of many of the decisions made by the Ghiz government, and brought forward many issues in this time, and in the fall municipal elections.
The Guardian wrote a kindly editorial Monday about his efforts.
Kennedy's Withdrawal Unfortunate - The Guardian article
Published Monday, January 19th, 2015
It comes as no surprise that Keith Kennedy is abandoning his run to become leader of the Liberal Party of P.E.I. and premier. His decision last Thursday virtually guarantees that Wade MacLauchlan will be acclaimed leader and the Island’s 32nd premier at the party’s convention weekend Feb. 20-21. The deadline to nominate for leader is tomorrow, Jan. 20 and it would be impossible for anyone to mobilize support at this late date to challenge Mr. MacLauchlan who has the entire Liberal caucus, insiders and hierarchy behind him. He also has the tacit support of Premier Robert Ghiz, the open support of the three Island Liberal MPs and of former premier Alex Campbell, a Liberal legend and the subject of a biography published last year by Mr. MacLauchlan.
Mr. Kennedy was certainly facing monumental odds. He was never made to feel warm and cozy in the bosom of the provincial Liberal Party and the frustrations he encountered trying to meet nomination criteria just became too much. He planned to visit each of the 27 ridings to gather the names necessary in support of his leadership bid but ran into problems obtaining forms and getting Liberals to sign them.
Those problems were understandable in some ways. If an MLA or party member had already signed nomination papers for Mr. MacLauchlan, or intend to vote for him at the convention, why would they sign someone else’s forms?
Fortunately for the party, it won’t have to deal with the sensitive issue of having to officially ‘green-light’ Mr. Kennedy’s leadership bid, had he been able to meet all the criteria. His party loyalty was newly-minted since he didn’t buy a membership until Nov. 21, shortly after Premier Ghiz announced his plans to resign once a new leader is selected. Mr. Kennedy officially announced his intentions to run in early December and spent six weeks in the race, most of it consumed with trying to get names and raise money. The $2,500 non-refundable fee to enter the race was seen as a major roadblock.
The Liberals had to tread carefully, lest they be accused of trying to stifle challengers, especially those with political beliefs mostly contrary to the government. But a leadership race would have been a healthy experience for the party, and a chance to debate policy and get members involved.
Mr. Kennedy was gracious following his decision, saying he was glad of the opportunity to run and appreciated hearing a good cross-section of issues and concerns from Islanders.
Today's paper features the headline "PREMIER-IN-WAITING" in big letters on the cover with a photo of MacLauchlan with outstretched arms; the lead editorial discusses former Ghiz Clerk of the Executive Council Allan Rankin's comments about the PNP in "another island publication" (which would be The Graphic) and pretty much dismisses any concerns about the Provincial Nominee Program.
Mr. MacLauchlan has mentioned roundtables he plans for the next month to see and hear Islanders. The lunch-and-learn about his views on agriculture, sponsored by the PEI Institute of Agrologists is in one week, February 4th, noon, at the Holiday Inn in Charlottetown. To register for a seat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Tonight is a Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, corner of Haviland and Water Streets in Charlottetown, upstairs meeting room. All are welcome to attend.
There was some coverage of the Alberton forum in The Guardian this week that was reprinted from The Journal-Pioneer, and also there was a "standard-issue backlash" response from former Conservative MP Ted Menzies, now CEO of the lobby group CropLife.
Events that might be of interest to folks on this list are here on the Citizens' Alliance Clearinghouse Calendar:
And today's Global Chorus essayist is home construction guru Mike Holmes, who writes, of course, about what he knows best:
"Every home should work with its environment. It just makes sense. Use the rainwater, the sunlight, the temperature in the ground. I've built these homes. Why? Because when you work with Mother Nature, she works for you. You live healthier. You live happier." -- Mike Holmes
January 20, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The anthology Global Chorus for January 20th features an essay by Leilani Munter. She is a young American woman who drives racecars (without fossil fuels, sometimes) and understands a great deal about biology. (Not that bio-fuels don't have other issues that need exploration and discussion.)
In her essay, she quotes 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." She relates that to adapting to renewable fuels and to energy conservation.
Tonight is the Island Nature Trust talk at the library about animals which didn't change, or were pressured too much by human activities: "Extinct and Extirpated Animals PEI", 7PM, Confederation Centre Public Library.
And a bit more on adapting -- On November 18th, 2014, Cassandra PEI posted the last part of their "End Game" segment:
and new postings here:
The Citizens' Alliance hopes to communicate information on issues and opportunities to engage in this big discussion and take the next steps.
January 19, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Events this week:
Don’t Frack PEI Information session, 7PM to 9PM, Souris Ski Lodge, Route 305, Souris.
"The session is open to all who have an interest in learning more about, and taking action around, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas. We will explore what has recently happened in other provinces, and the threat that fracking poses to PEI." There will also be a discussion of alternatives to fossil-fuels,
Tuesday, January 20th, "Extinct and Extirpated Animals of PEI", 7PM, Confed Public Library, Charlottetown, a talk given by Jackie Waddell of the Island Nature Trust.
(By the way, if you haven't renewed your memberships to some of the island's charitable organizations, they are often due in January and rely on this funding.)
Wednesday, January 21st, Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, upstairs, Charlottetown. All welcome.
Regarding our democratic landscape:
All Parties Should Commit to a PNP Inquiry - NDP Press Release
January 17th, 2015
Press release by Micheal Redmond, NDP PEI leader
NDP PEI Leader Mike Redmond is urging all political parties fielding candidates for the next election to do what the NDP has done and publicly commit to a public inquiry on provincial government administration of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) right now.
“The recent revelations about a former top Ghiz government advisor pinpointing the Premier’s involvement in PNP administration irregularities bolster the NDP assertion that a PNP public inquiry is essential,” stated Redmond.
The Guardian of January 17 is carrying a story wherein Opposition Leader Steven Myers states he has written to the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee requesting an appearance by former Clerk of the Executive Council Allan Rankin. In December, Rankin had written about the Premier’s direct involvement in PNP in a column for the Eastern Graphic.
“Now we need to see PC Leadership candidates and the only Liberal Leadership candidate Wade MacLauchlan commit to a PNP public inquiry. Only through a legally constituted process under the Public Inquiries Act can officials like Rankin and many others safely and thoroughly present their information on PNP,” added the NDP Leader.
Liberal Leadership candidate Wade MacLauchlan has not committed to the existing fixed election date.
“Islanders do not yet know when the next provincial election is coming. But what all parties can do right now is to commit to a PNP public inquiry. Let’s go into the election debating the specifics of what a PNP inquiry should entail instead of whether or not there should be one. That question is now answered by the comments of Allan Rankin. Given the nature of the still sitting Premier’s involvement in PNP, a public inquiry is now what we owe to all Islanders,” concluded Redmond.
And two years ago from the Green Party:
Green Party Leader Calls for Full Scale Public Inquiry into PNP - Green Party Press Release
Monday, November 12th, 2012
Press release by Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party PEI
Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker is promising, if elected in 2015 to call for a full-scale public inquiry into the Provincial Nominee Program. In doing so, he is endorsing a Guardian Editorial published just over a year ago.
“The release of recipients names last week answered one small question surrounding the Provincial Nominee Program, but is leaves so many larger, more important questions unanswered. The level of public interest, and the cloud of suspicion that continues to hang over this issue makes a full-scale public inquiry an absolute necessity,” says Bevan-Baker.
“The authority for conducting such an inquiry is available through current provincial legislation,” continued Bevan-Baker. “The Public Inquiries Act gives a commissioner the power to call any witnesses, who are compelled to testify under oath and produce any documents in their possession. Premier Ghiz could call for such an inquiry immediately, and if he really wanted to get to the bottom of this and clear the air, that’s exactly what he would do.”
“Nobody really knows the extent of the problems surrounding PNP”, Bevan-Baker added, “but the amount of money involved – almost half a billion dollars - is about twice the entire sum associated with the sponsorship scandal in Quebec which brought down Paul Martin and the federal Liberals so humiliatingly a decade ago. If only some of the allegations being made surrounding the program on PEI are true, then PNP issue could well be the biggest uninvestigated political boondoogle in Island history. We need an inquiry to get the facts out.”
Bevan-Baker feels that it is critical, in order that Islanders can have restored faith in the governing structures of this province, that a full public inquiry be held. “Without one, the negative perception held by most Islanders unfairly tarnishes those companies who took proper advantage of a legitimate government program designed to encourage economic development rather than personal enrichment.”
“Until we know who made what decisions and who benefitted, we are left imagining all sorts of very unwholesome thoughts. Accountability and transparency in government are of paramount importance to the Green Party of PEI, and the precious relationship of trust and respect that has to exist between those who govern and those who are governed needs to be nurtured, not undermined. The failings around PNP are also a measure of our jurisdictional competency,” concluded Bevan-Baker: “We need to demonstrate that we are capable of investigating this fairly and thoroughly and putting our provincial house in order.”
Recently, the Interim Tory Leader Steven Myers called for
Opposition leader wants to hear from Allan Rankin on premier’s involvement in PNP - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Published on Saturday, January 17th, 2015, in The Guardian
Opposition Leader Steven Myers wants to call a former clerk of Executive Council to public accounts to answer questions about Premier Robert Ghiz’s role in P.E.I.’s controversial immigrant investor program.Myers sent a letter to the provincial public accounts committee this week, requesting the committee call Allan Rankin to testify.
Rankin served as clerk of the Executive Council under Robert Ghiz from 2007 to 2009. Before that, he was a heavyweight in the Liberal administrations of both Joe Ghiz and Catherine Callbeck and also worked in Ottawa as a parliamentary assistant.
He has recently begun writing an opinion column for The Eastern Graphic newspaper. It is one of these columns that caught the eye of the Opposition leader.
In December, Rankin wrote about Ghiz’s surprise resignation announcement, offering criticism of Ghiz’s time in office, zeroing in on the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Calling the program a “debacle,” Rankin alleges Ghiz had a direct role in managing this program.
“It is always dangerous for a premier to manage any file within his own office, especially one that is potentially controversial and involves the disbursement of money,” Rankin wrote in his column.“Premier Ghiz could not resist a direct role in administering and disbursing PNP units, and as a consequence he became ensnared in the irregularities and outrageous behaviour that surrounded that program.”
Ghiz has never acknowledged any direct role in the handling of this program, which has been mired in scandal for more than seven years.
Over 1,300 Island companies received money from immigrant investors through the PNP, which allowed these immigrants to effectively buy their way into Canada. Concerns were raised about how the immigrant monies were distributed to P.E.I. businesses, which prompted an auditor general investigation in 2009. That probe found numerous instances where program officials broke rules and policies, which in turn financially benefitted certain P.E.I. companies and their owners.
Myers points out Rankin was clerk of Executive Council the top public service job in the province at the very time many of the irregularities in this program occurred.
His comments about Ghiz’s involvement shed new light on the controversy surrounding the PNP, Myers says.
“This is the first time that a senior member of government from that time discloses that the premier’s office was directly involved in the handling of the (PNP) file,” Myers said.
“The purpose of the public accounts committee is to review government programs and operation and try to learn from past mistakes so they won’t be repeated. This seems like a situation where… it would be a good opportunity for (Rankin) to come in and explain.”
Rankin was surprised to learn Myers had sent the letter about him to public accounts.
He says he swore an oath of confidentiality when he began working in the Executive Council office, which would preclude him from sharing certain information. But he conceded he was unclear about how long that oath extends after one leaves government and whether the committee’s legislative authority to compel evidence and information would trump this oath.
Regardless, Rankin said he would indeed appear at committee, if called.
When asked if he would be comfortable answering pointed questions about this particular issue, Rankin said no.
“But if you’re sworn to give evidence before a house committee, I would certainly answer whatever questions were addressed to me, with the one constraint that I wouldn’t be able to provide detailed information that came from Executive Council because of the oath I’ve taken,” he said.
“I could speak generally and respond as best I could, but there would be some constraints on that.”
The committee has not yet responded to Myer’s request.
The column by Allan Rankin in The Eastern Graphic which Steven Myers refers to is here:
And there is concern, as Mr. Rankin is under confidentiality oaths, he won't be able to say much at a committee meeting (as opposed to a public inquiry, I think), but it will "look good" politically.
On a higher plane:
Global Chorus's essayist is children's entertainer Fred Penner.
Sites about Fred:
And a quote from his essay:
"We are resilient and adaptable human beings...<snip>...That doesn't make the challenges we face now any easier, but it should give us some sense of optimism. Trust and belief in one another is where it starts. My perspective is blessed and specific to the generations raised with my music. Through recordings, concerts and a television series my creative life journey has allowed me to connect with that generation. The affirmation of my optimism comes from the almost daily responses, both personal and through social media. from the children who are now young adults making their own way through the insanity." -- Fred Penner
January 18, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
About a year ago, it appeared that government was sending mixed signals about lifting a moratorium on high capacity wells for agricultural purposes. There was a bit of silliness about Minister Sherry closely holding a file and saying there was no report from the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) to her, so she wouldn't share. (That was pretty much all the public needed to know about what her EAC concluded.) She said the Potato Board would have to educate the public, and one of the authors of department's "extraction policy" said P.E.I. could support "dozens and dozens of high capacity wells".
The Citizens' Alliance called a meeting of folks representing groups that were concerned about this. A separate organization was formed, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, with Catherine O'Brien as it chairperson. Its organizational members include the Citizens' Alliance, Cooper Institute, Council of Canadians, the local CUPE, Don't Frack PEI, ECO-PEI, Green Party PEI, National Farmers' Union (District, Region 1), NDP PEI, Pesticide Free PEI, several watershed groups, the Sierra Club -- Atlantic Chapter, Save Our Seas and Shores PEI,and many others, including over 200 individuals. The website is here:
The Coalition was one of the first to speak to the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry at the end of February. Many meetings with many submissions followed, over twenty recommending that the moratorium stay in place. There were a couple or presentations recommending lifting (including Robert Irving) and a couple of organizations saying if the science showed more wells would be harmful, then to keep the moratorium. Many people and individuals made heartfelt presentations, and several groups with naturalist and/or scientific personages dismantled the paltry science behind the extraction policy. Maude Barlow,chair of the Council of Canadians, was on P.E.I. in March, and gave a riveting speech to hundreds of people about the sanctity of water.
In April 2014, Premier Ghiz announced Todd Dupuis, who had been Atlantic Salmon Federation executive director, as the new Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment. In June 2014, the province announced (before the Standing Committee had finished its hearings) that it would work toward creating a comprehensive water act, and until that was enacted, the moratorium would stay. The Citizens' Alliance was one of the last groups to speak to the Standing Committee, and we directed our comments to how the water act could be put together, and how the finished product should look.
The Standing Committee's report from November 19th, 2014, is here:
In the throne speech, a day before Robert Ghiz stepped back from the premiership, the Lt. Governor read that the Environment Department would:
"Develop a Water Act for our province – beginning with a public consultations process this fall, and research into the approaches of other jurisdictions."
It's been quiet about plans for the public consultation process, but people and groups are waiting and discussing about water's importance to Islanders and our Island.
Then this was in yesterday's Guardian:
from The Guardian, Saturday, January 17th, 2015, page C3.
Nothing about the water act process. Back to verifying that they are the experts, dazzling us with percentages; but not to worry, for there is plenty of water.
The Lunch ( bring your own brown bag) -- and Learn (of Wade MacLaughlan's thoughts on agriculture and food) has been moved to The Holiday Inn Express on Capital Drive (between Upton Road and North River Road). This event is sponsored by the PEI Institute of Agrologists. If you are interested in attending, contact email@example.com
Aram Hur is a 40-something South Korean woman, always concerned about the planet, who has run a business that has evolved into a bookstore, a publishing house, and now associated cafe. Her essay for January 18th in Global Chorus includes:
"The obligations in our life might be challenging, probably most of the time, but we can still be hopeful when ordinary people bring out the best in human nature: courage, solidarity, altruism, generosity and love. And it must be the task of the living to keep hope alive." -- Aram Hur
And here is a two-minute spoof of nature shows with a naturalist calling the Energy East pipeline (oil) one of "Canada's Longest Migration". It funny in that not-so-funny way.
January 17, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Saturday is a chance to get some local food at the farmers' markets that are still open; it is the "good-storing" vegetables time of year, so not a wide selection as in late summer, perhaps. Some info on cabbage and a recipe follow at the end of this post.
The recent newsletter of the PEI Food Security Network is here, filled with many different topics:
Some events are like the Seedy Saturday (Charlottetown, February 21st and Seedy Sunday (Summerside, March 8th), and also this:
The PEI Institute of Agrologists "Lunch & Learn" (Wednesday, February 4th, noon, Crops and Livestock Research Station on University Avenue), features Liberal leadership hopeful Wade MacLaughlan speaking about: "His vision for agriculture and food production under a provincial Liberal mandate." To attend, one must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Skelly is today's Global Chorus contributor, and I honestly had not heard of him before. And he has no Wikipedia entry, but a website that certainly sounds impressive here:
He helped Prince Charles explain his ideas regarding living in harmony, in the book by that name. ( I have to admit, I am a little sour on Prince Charles since he was walked around a new path in the Bonshaw Park, like, well, a King Charles spaniel, during his visit to P.E.I. in May 2014. This was despite communication attempts to him and his staff by many with the entire story behind the establishment of the park and Plan B, which was so in odds with his usual messages of respect for community, elders and nature.) Anyway, the book sounds like it has wonderful descriptions and ideas, and the Prince has brought about a lot of attention to these topics.
Mr. Skelly works with various media to send his message, and here is a bit from his Global Chorus essay:
"Shift your perception. Move from seeing yourself 'apart' from Nature, but also away from the notion that we are 'part' of Nature. The truth is that we are Nate. Nature is not a machine made up of parts, but a harmonic, dynamic whole." -- Ian Skelly
January 16, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight is the District 4: Belfast - Murray River nominating convention for Darlene Compton, the third Progressive Conservative leadership candidate.
It is at Murray River Community Hall, registration is at 6:30, meeting begins at 7PM.
The Tories' leadership convention is Saturday, February 28th, at UPEI's field house, a week after the Liberals' leadership convention.
Before that there will be four "town hall" meetings with all of the PC candidates for leader in attendance:
Kaylee Hall in Poole’s Corner on Thursday, January 29th.
St. Anthony’s Hall in Bloomfield on Tuesday, February 3rd;
Credit Union Place in Summerside on Wednesday, February 4th;
and at the APM Centre in Cornwall on Tuesday, February 10th.
All Town Halls will begin at 7PM and run 90 minutes.
from their website:
(Leadership convention spokesman Gordon) MacFarlane says: the Town Halls are open to the public and will feature a format that allows the audience to ask questions of the leadership candidates. “This is an excellent opportunity for party members preparing to vote in the leadership to ask questions of the candidates. We also recognize that there are Islanders very interested in the process, but not members of the party. The Town Halls are also a chance for them to meet the candidates and ask questions as well.”
If anyone wishes to submit questions to the candidates in advance they can be sent to email@example.com.
For further information contact:
There is also a form on the website for submitting questions for the leadership forums. Some ones to consider that you could submit: will the candidate support the Tories proposing a PNP inquiry? Extend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to the University of PEI and Holland College? What about some of the issues Cassandra PEI raised about our agricultural model choices now and in the future? (CassandraPEI's set of slides are here:
There are many questions :-)
More PC news:
The last day to purchase a new membership in the PC Party so you can vote for a leader (Feb. 28th) is technically February 1st (Sunday), so Friday, January 31st may be a better day to make sure you have purchased it, a party person told me. If your membership has been lapsed for less than four years, you can renew it and still vote for leader up to the "call" at the convention.
Here is there membership fee list (also from their website):
Memberships are for two years, or 5 years. You must be 14 years or older.
( ) 2 yr - Individual - $10
( ) 2 yr - Senior (65+) - $5
( ) 2 yr - Youth (14-19) - $5
( ) 2 yr - Family - $25
( ) 5 yr - Individual - $20
( ) 5 yr - Senior (65+) - $10
( ) 5 yr - Youth (14-19) - $10
Saturday, January 17th, Kathy Birt's In My Opinion book launch, 2PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown.
Kathy Birt is an Island author, and frequent writer of letters to the editor. She is launching her self-published book, In My Opinion, commenting on PNP, Plan B and HST, among other topics.
Liberal leadership candidate roundtable on "Youth Leaders and Entrepreneurs", Mill River Resort, 3:30 - 5:30PM., hosted by candidate Wade MacLaughlan. More info:
Some events of interest to people on this list are on the Citizens' Alliance Clearinghouse Calendar:
Today's Global Chorus contributor William McDonough, a designer and architect making things better, smarter, more sustainable. He quotes Hildegard von Bingen, a 11th century German composer and Benedictine abbess (one of the first composers documented, by the way):
"Glance at the sun. See the moon and the starts. Gaze at the beauty of Earth's greetings. Now, think." -- William McDonough quoting Hildegard of Bingen
More on William McDonough:
More on Hildegard von Bingen
The Island weekly La Voix Acadienne did a story last week on Peter Bevan-Baker and the Green Party PEI:
January 15, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last Call at the Oasis was a very good documentary, although we didn't exactly see the last few minutes due to DVD player fussiness. But it was a thorough and entertaining investigation of particular issues happening, mostly in the States, but very applicable to local issues -- water use, priorities, pesticide use, overwhelmed and underfunded environmental government department people, the corporate control of decisions, people unwilling to acknowledge looming and actual problems like climate change, and so forth. (It is available on Netflix, I am told. I do miss the That's Entertainment movie rental place.)
One of many enlightening but dismaying segments of the movie was on the effects of atrazine (an herbicide used extensively, especially in the western U.S.) which has been studied thoroughly by researcher Tyrone B. Hayes,
He says the precautionary principle is being misapplied. His continued struggle to share how atrazine (which is a compound of three nitrogens, three, carbons, and three nitrogens dancing in a ring with some other element friends) is deleterious in much smaller concentrations than is currently considered "safe for drinking water."
A snapshot of an Environment Canada and P.E.I. Environment (when it was with Energy and Forestry, so before 2011) publication on pesticide monitoring on PEI:
Thanks again to Todd MacLean for giving the Citizens' Alliance a copy of his book which we used as a door prize. Lynne Lund won the Global Chorus book, and she can get caught up on the 14 or so essays until today.
Global Chorus today features one of the youngest contributors, Rachel Parent, a teenager who has been asking questions about genetically modified organisms in foods and calling for clearer labeling. She set up the website Kids Right to Know, which is here:
which has the tagline "One Planet for All -- All for One Planet". The website is a fantastic primer on GMOs and how people of all ages can take action.
A quote form her essay:
"As one of the youth, I can only allow myself to have hope for out future. To lose hope would mean giving up on the beauty of Nature and the miracle of life. Our goal must be to leave the Earth better than we found it. We owe this to ourselves and to the many generations yet to come." -- Rachel Parent
This Canadian kid tried for months to meet with Rona Ambrose, the current federal Minister of Health, and the Minister finally made time for her in November of last year. Soon after, Ambrose reiterated her confidence in the safety of GMOs, but said Rachel should meet with the Health Canada scienticsts and researchers to share her information. It's back to citizens trying to explain the precautionary principle to people who are supposed to protect our health and environment and not the profits from corporations.
But she has hope, and shares it with us.
January 14, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight there is something (or more) for everyone:
Stratford part 1:
Stratford Town Council meeting, with Pesticide Free PEI members and local residents Roger Gordan and Maureen Kerr presenting about a cosmetic pesticide ban. The government MLAs, despite their torpor in the wake of Premier Ghiz's semi-retirement announcement, passed a change to the Municipalities Act allowing for some sort of local council control. I didn't find the details of the meeting, but it is very likely at the town hall and open to the public.
Roundtable on "prospering rural communities", 7-9PM, Georgetown Playhouse, hosted by Liberal leadership candidate Wade MacLaughlan, one of several different roundtables already in the works:
Stratford, part 2:
James' Aylward, District 6 (Stratford-Kinlock) nominating meeting, starting at 6:30PM, at Our Lady of Assumption Church.
The PEI Coalition for Fair EI second public forum, 7PM, Loyalist Inn, Summerside,
from their press release:
<snip> " for community groups and individuals interested in seeing a change in direction for the next Federal Election.<> The first Forum was held on November 20, 2014 with representatives from community groups, unions,and individuals discussing how the recent decisions of the Federal Government have had significant impacts on families and communities across the country, in PEI, and in the Prince County area, in particular. The Forum provided an opportunity to create
hope in communities by supporting each other and giving voice to shared concerns.
The second Forum will focus on what strategic actions will be required in the next few months in the Prince County area that will bring about a change in direction for the next Federal Election. Similar forums may be organized in the other two counties, if there is sufficient interest. The PEI Coalition for Fair EI welcomes other Islanders, especially Prince County residents, to join those who participated in the first Public Forum. Registration is requested due to limited seating. People interested in attending are asked to register by calling 902-894-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Documentary on water issues, Last Call at the Oasis, 7-9PM, Robertson Library Room 235, UPEI, sponsored by the Citizens' Alliance (us!), Cinema Politica Charlottetown, and CUPE 1870. Admission by Freewill offering, and there will be a door prize of a copy of Global Chorus. Cinema Politica Charlottetown is a co-op of sorts, providing documentaries not easily available to local audiences, and different local groups (like ECO-PEI and the Citizens' Alliance) are "members" of. Each year each member group hosts one of more movies from the list that Cinema Politica has, which is huge. CUPE is sponsoring this one, too, and helped up get a venue. It should be informative, and a nice chance to say hello to everyone.
Though classes are going on, you can park anywhere, pretty much, for an evening event at UPEI, and hopefully find the Robertson Library, the two joined squares. Map here:
One you find either set of library doors, face the circulation desk, and Room 235 should be off to the right.
The Global Chorus essayist for January 14th is Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. An excerpt:
<<many people...don't realize that the solution to great global challenges are within our reach. Every day, I find myself making this case, battling the perception that politics today cannot support great moral aspirations, or that the world cannot come together to achieve these goals." -- Rajiv ShahMore on Dr. Shah, a 41-year old medical doctor from Detroit, Michigan, who has been working on international development most of his career:
January 13, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
"I am a prisoner of hope."
That's how Archbishop Desmond Tutu starts his essay for the anthology Global Chorus, which is placed today. It's a wry statement, a little sad and yet makes one smile.
He talks about the other major challenges people have faced and made significant progress in change, e.g., slavery and apartheid, and feels we can work together to feed the world's populations and deal with climate change. But he knows we need the appropriate political will.
Hope and political will are there, found in various endeavors.
Keith Kennedy would like to see debate and an actual contest for the Liberal leadership (convention set for February 20th and 21st). He injected much expanded discussion into the Charlottetown mayor's race last Fall. He would like to run for the leadership, and has until January 20th to file papers. He still needs to collect his 50 signatures from Liberal Party members and the $2,500 entry fee.
Recent CBC story on-line:
Islanders David MacKay, of LeadNow, and Brenda Oslawsky, with FairVote, are bringing communication and ideas about our next elections to people. They were at a booth at Charlottetown's Farmers' Market this past weekend and will be there again the first Saturday in March. The two national organizations have some differences, but a main idea is some election reform to make each person's vote count.
Three major Federal parties (Green, Liberal, NDP) either have as part of their platform or policy to work towards some sort electoral reform.
A recent local CBC article, focusing on the more exciting concept of "targeting" a politician, as opposed to the major issue of electoral fairness (bold is mine, and this is it how Minister Shea tends to answer *any* question these last two years):
Conservative MP Gail Shea target for Lead Now on P.E.I. - CBC News
Gail Shea has not yet decided whether to re-offer
Posted Thursday, January 8th, 2015, on CBC's webpage
A new group on P.E.I. plans to launch a campaign to encourage those in Egmont to vote strategically to take away the Conservatives’ only seat on the Island.
Lead Now P.E.I. is part of a national movement to defeat the Conservative government in the federal election through strategic voting in swing ridings.
The Island chapter co-founder David MacKay told CBC News his group will endorse the candidate in Egmont who best supports Lead Now's three principals: open democracy, a fair economy, and a safe climate.
"Which candidates are most aligned and truly aligned with these issues, these policies, support these issues in their local riding, and secondly who has the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate,” said MacKay.
MacKay doesn't know yet which candidate Lead Now will endorse in Egmont. So far it's a choice between Liberal Robert Morrissey or NDP Herb Dickieson. MacKay said national Lead Now has not identified Egmont as a swing riding yet, but the P.E.I. chapter will work locally whether its parent group does or not.
Voting will be on values, says Shea
Egmont MP Gail Shea, the Conservatives’ sole representative on the Island, has not yet decided if she will re-offer. She has represented Egmont since 2008.
When asked about Lead Now's campaign in her riding, Shea responded in an email.
"I'm sure Islanders will base their choice on their values rather than lobby groups,” Shea wrote.
“I firmly believe that Islanders will be able to see the difference between a serious and experienced leader like Stephen Harper who has managed our country's economy extremely well during the global recession and Justin Trudeau whose priorities are marijuana legalization and abortion."
LeadNow and FairVote meet the first Thursday of each month, at the Haviland Club meeting rooms, at 7PM. The next meeting will be Thursday, February 5th. All are welcome to join in the discussion and share ideas.
January 12, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Cassandra PEI's 23rd post, drawing conclusions and offering clear action steps, came out on November 17th, 2014.
Today's Guardian, on its "Green Pages", there is an article on wireworm, and while it mentions a couple of non-chemical practices to reduce the load, it also details the insecticides currently available. The info sheet, which the article pretty much prints verbatim, is here:
Deborah Harford is at Simon Fraser University in BC, and she is the executive direction for their Adaptation to Climate Change Team, a very active think tank and program at the university.
For Global Chorus, January 12th, she writes:
"Our brilliant minds -- all seven billion of them -- have to collectively start thinking like the bodies within ecosystems that we are. All that is required is for us to recognize that we live in a circular system, not a linear one. This truth must percolate through all our realities, from economics to eating to energy production." -- Deborah Harford
Tonight is the PC nominating convention for District 13 Charlottetown â Brighton, PC Leadership Candidate, Rob Lantz, Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond Street. Registration 6:30PM, meeting starts at 7PM.
Wednesday, January 14th, is looking busy:
the Citizens' Alliance-sponsored movie at UPEI at 7PM on water, Last Call at the Oasis, with a door prize of a copy of Global Chorus:
there is also a roundtable on prospering rural communities with Liberal leadership candidate Wade MacLaughlan, at the Georgetown Playhouse;
and the PC nominating convention for District 6 Stratford â Kinlock, PC Leadership Candidate, James Aylward, Our Lady of Assumption Church Hall,151 Stratford Road. Registration 6:30PM, meeting starts at 7PM.
January 11, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Yesterday afternoon's forum in Alberton was packed (over 150 people), and people wanted to discuss the issues surrounding pesticide use, which expanded to include nitrates in water, waterway issues, actual chemicals applied, and health concerns. Many local residents were there, the organizers and other interested folks not from the area, and a few politicians; many people there expressed having felt powerless and unheard.
Malcolm Pitre, a shellfisher from Tignish, spoke first, expressing his frustration as an oyster fisher with the serious water quality issues, many due to too much "nutrient load" getting into waterways and causing sea lettuce blooms, die off and anoxia. He cited a real disconnect with government to address the issues.
Bruce Hyer, MP from Thunder Bay, spoke next about pesticide issues he has seen, and observations -- we grow too many potatoes, and mostly a fussy variety for processing that needs lots of nitrogen and lots of water, no added value to this crop, we eat too much white starch, etc. While it is easy to find faults that seem obvious, and have blanket fixes, it sometimes takes people looking in from outside to ask awkward questions, albeit respectfully. He closed by asking these questions to us:
why do we accept the risks of pesticides? of increased cancers?
Why not diversify the agricultural base?
Why do we let large corporations run our lives?
why do you accept the same people and (political) parties?
Dr. Ron Matasusaki worked in Alberton for four years in the early 2000's, and before that practiced medicine in many areas of Canada and the United States. He has been in Digby, N.S. for the past few years. Recollecting his time in P.E.I., he told incident after incident of odd, rare cancers, clusters of cancer in families, on streets. He went on a airplane ride to get a feel for the land and saw how surrounded most homes and schools were by fields.
His talk was beyond sobering. He too felt his concerns were ignored or belittled by the government (Pat Binns' Conservatives, in this case).
The questions were varied, and by then the Department of Environment folks had quietly left. One can dispute the various official groupings of numbers; and, for our province anyway, rates per thousand or however incidence is often calculated are not that accurate to compare -- we are just too small. But it's hard to deny that we have more going on. No magic bullets or particular tangible solutions were proposed. (And the whole methylbromide/chloropicrin use at the Westech facility in the town limits was not addressed at all -- forgotten with so many other issues floating around.) There are some tangible things people can to do -- firstly, consider ways to cut other cancer risk factors: stop or reduce smoking, keep a healthy weight, breastfeed their babies, eat more vegetables, reduce pesticide exposure as they can. And keep talking and getting informed, and keep telling local politicians and ones that come knocking at the door their concerns (and contact the ones that don't -- yesterday's CA News had contact info). To be continued.
Some NDP leadership and provincial candidates were at the meeting, and then left to go to Dr. Herb Dickieson's meet-and-greet in Tyne Valley (as he is running for the NDP in the federal riding of Egmont) and used the trip up West to see firsthand some infrastructure damage from the big rain before Christmas.
Their press release, here:
Provincial Government Unprepared for Extreme Weather Damage - NDP PEI Press release
Issued Saturday, January 10th, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Charlottetown, PE – (January 10, 2015) – A site visit and tour of damaged transportation infrastructure in West Prince has made NDP PEI Leader Mike Redmond even more convinced that the provincial government is unprepared for sudden damage from extreme weather events.
“The highways and bridges in West Prince were not ready for the huge rainfall that happened in this region last month and the Department of Transportation and Public Works is not set up and managed properly to return traffic to normal in a reasonable period of time,” stated Redmond.
Today Redmond visited the Rosebank Bridge area and other damaged transportation sites in West Prince with Dr. Herb Dickieson, federal NDP candidate for Egmont, Olivia Wood, who is seeking the NDP nomination in District 22 Summerside – St. Eleanors, Jamie Larkin, who is seeking the NDP nomination in District 11 Charlottetown – Parkdale and Bob MacLean, who is seeking the NDP nomination in District 13 Charlottetown – Brighton.
“I know the Liberal government will try to turn my criticism toward the crews doing the repair and rebuilding work but that it is not what I am talking about here. This problem has to do with the Liberal government not following through on advice they had in front of them seven years ago,” added the NDP Leader.
In 2008 a government report called Prince Edward Island and Climate Change, A Strategy for Reducing the Impacts of Global Warming recommended the government consider catastrophe planning for storms, tidal surges, extreme storms and extreme weather systems and incorporate climate change measures into land use plans, land use bylaws, road and bridge construction, wharves, marinas, and other infrastructure.
“The weather related disasters we face in West Prince today and others we will endure in our public infrastructure in other parts of the Island in the future are made worse by seven years of inaction by the provincial Liberal government. They are not ready for these climate change related problems because they did not make a priority of getting ready for them,” concluded Redmond.
Global Chorus January 11th essay is by Mark Boyle, an Irishman known as The Moneyless Man, as he has existed since 2008 without using any currency.
Here's more in his own words from 2009 from that other Guardian:
and a quote from his essay:
"What is certain, however, is that we will need to localize our lives if we are to create healthy ecological systems, and we are going to have to radically alter the spirit in which we meet our needs if want to create a world worth sustaining. Therefore, I believe in Permaculture values and gift culture principles must be at the heart of whatever comes next." -- Mark Boyle
January 10, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Morgan Spurlock is the January 10th contributor to Global Chorus. He made the 2004 documentary movie Supersize Me, the one about the fellow who ate nothing but MacDonald's food for about a month, and what that did to his health. (I saw those sideburns and said, "He has got to be from West Virginia", and so he is.) He has also done other movies and television programs with a sense of humour, and a message.
In his essay, he writes of his childhood, what we are doing to the earth, and connects it to being a father:
"When I was growing up in West Virginia, I looked at the mountains and the trees and rivers that surrounded my house as part of my "home" This...all of this...was where I lived. But as I grew older, I became blind to my surroundings and ignorant of my impact. It takes a wake-up call for us to understand a world bigger than ourselves, For me, that was the birth of my son." - -Morgan Spurlock, filmmaker, political activist
Today is a forum about pesticides, to be held in Alberton, 1-3PM, at the Community Centre. Speakers will include Dr. Ron Matsusaki, fisher Malcolm Pitre, and Green Party MP (and former biochemist) Bruce Hyer.
Cassandra PEI summary comments, originally posted on November 14th, 2014:
The last point -- not vilifying the farmers, who may be our family, neighbours and friends -- is something is good counsel in any discussion of land use, and looking towards the Island's future.
Farmers' markets open in Summerside and Charlottetown today. FairVote and LeadNow will be having an information booth at the Charlottetown Market today.
January 9, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Cassandra PEI's 21st posting, originally from November 14th, 2014, offers some actions for Islanders.
screenshot from Cassandra PEI's compilation of webpostings, found here:
The Provincial Electoral Districts are here:
and the one not on the list, leadership candidate for the Liberal Party, Wade MacLauchlan, (902) 370-WADE or email@example.com
Here is an:
Alphabetical list of PEI Members of the Legislative Assembly (scroll right for e-mail and mailing addresses)
January 10th's Global Chorus essay is by Alexandra Cousteau, the 38-year old filmmaker and environmentalist, granddaughter of the famous oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. While being focused on oceans and global water issues, Alexandra also focuses on the the local.
In 2012, Cousteau introduced the concept "watershed-first thinking," which is a "whole-system approach" that "takes into account the numerous demands, threats and developments within a watershed... From resource management, to addressing pollution, to planning appropriately for the placement of cities, factories, and farms, watershed-first thinking focuses on ecosystem interconnectivity and sustainable decision-making."
Her website is here:
Her Global Chorus essay is poignant, starting about her childhood observing tidepools that are poor algal pools now; and ending with protecting things for our children.
The line that stayed with me:
"I believe there is no greater aspiration than the one to protect our children and the quality of life they can expect from this uniquely beautiful place called Earth." -- Alexandra Cousteau
Wednesday, January 14th is the Citizens' Alliance and Cinema Politica's screening of Last Call at the Oasis, about global and local water issues, at 7PM, Room 235, Robertson Library, UPEI. Admission is by freewill offering, and we have a copy of Global Chorus, donated by editor Todd MacLean, to give away as a door prize that night.
Tomorrow is a forum regarding pesticides, in Alberton at the Community Centre, from 1-3PM, and a brief introduction regarding environmental rights.
Especially if you are in the area, it should be a good information and discussion session.
January 8, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight, there is a Leadnow is meeting in Charlottetown, 7PM, Haviland Club, corner of Haviland and Water Streets. 2015 is likely to be quite an election year, and anyone interested in hearing more about engaging citizens regarding the major issues of our democracy is more than welcome to attend.
For more information on the national organization, go to:
The Global Chorus essay for today is by Bruce Cockburn, Canadian musician. He doesn't need anymore of an introduction, does he?, but his own website is here:
Here is a excerpt:
"Brilliant people are trying to address the problems of environmental degradation and social injustice. Some of them I've been blessed to know. Whenever I look around me, though, I see the world's decision makers guided by, and steering their constituencies using, short-term self-interest, fear and greed.
We think of survivalism as being all about stocking canned goods and guns. It's not my idea, but it seems right to me that true survivalism has to be about building community ... creating strategies which if necessary can bypass the hierarchies of power." - Bruce Cockburn, January 8
From last month's The Telegram in Newfoundland, but a good update, and applicable to P.E.I.:
LETTER: We Warned Your About CETA - The Telegram Letter to the Editor
by Wayne Lucas
Published on Thursday, December 18th, 2014, in The Telegram
In June 2013, some 19 months ago, The Telegram ran an opinion piece from me entitled "Time to walk away from trade talks." Here:
In that piece, I warned then-premier Kathy Dunderdale about the perils of the impending Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) being pushed by the Harper government.
CUPE, the Council of Canadians and others have been saying the deck is stacked against Canada in the CETA negotiations.
Now, Premier Paul Davis finds himself in the unenviable position of questioning — yet again — just how much harm Harper’s backroom trade deal is going to cost our province.
And those costs are tremendous. The United Nations has warned in a report that CETA would prohibit municipal governments from using procurement in a way that favours local or Canadian goods, services or labour. In other words, when it comes to buy-local initiatives, we might as well say “Ciao!”
CETA also creates a parallel legal system allowing European corporations to sue our governments over policies they claim unfairly undercut their profits.
If you need a reminder of what this might look like, it’s the very same investor-state “dispute settlement process” that allowed Abitibi-Bowater to sue for the loss of its water and timber rights (to the tune of $130 million) after the plant in Grand Falls-Windsor shut down.
Under CETA, Canada will be forced to lengthen the time pharmaceutical drugs remain under patent. This will drive up Canadian drug costs which are already the second highest in the world on a per capita basis.
If Premier Davis truly wants to stand up for the province’s future, he should heed the advice of the Council of Canadians and launch public hearings on CETA before our province decides whether to sign on.
Wayne Lucas is the President, Canadian Union of Public Employees, NL
January 7, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Gloria Flora is another contributor to Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet who some people may have heard of, but just what an interesting person she is!
Gloria Flora, photo from Sustainable Obtainable Solutions website http://s-o-solutions.org/people.html where she serves as director.
The website on Sustainable Obtainable Solutions ("A not-for-profit organization dedicated to the sustainability of public lands and the plant, animal and human communities that depend upon them.") describes:
Gloria Flora - In her 22-year career with the U.S. Forest Service, Gloria Flora became nationally known for her leadership in ecosystem management and for her courageous principled stands. As supervisor of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in north-central Montana, she made a landmark decision to prohibit natural gas leasing along the spectacular 356,000-acre Rocky Mountain Front near the Bob Marshall Wilderness, a place often described as an American Serengeti for its abundant populations of wildlife, birds and fish.
In 2000, she made national headlines again when she resigned as Forest Supervisor of the largest national forest in the lower 48 states - the Humboldt-Toiyabe - to call attention to antigovernment zealots engaged in the harassment and intimidation of Forest Service employees and destruction of natural resources on public lands.
In 2001, she founded and now directs Sustainable Obtainable Solutions, an organization dedicated to the sustainability of public lands and of the plants, animals and communities that depend on them. Flora's continuing work to protect the Rocky Mountain Front has resulted in significant successes such as a permanent ban on future leasing, retirement of many existing leases and a reduction of motorized travel.
Part of her essay:
"Refuge now isn't simply reaching higher ground. Our refuge lies in co-operation wiht neighbours: human, animal, trees and microbes.<snip> Permaculture tells us to care for the Earth, care for people and fair-share the surplus: we would be wise to listen." -- Gloria Flora
From Cassandra PEI:
And of course, the solutions to issues involves everyone, especially those most involved, the farmers themselves. We can't patronize nor vilify.
And the Island's two "smaller" parties have leaders bringing "big" issues to light:
Mike Redmond, leader of the NDP PEI, wrote recently about an audit of 2104 Celebrations before any election. Here is his press release, and The Guardian lead story today is about this.
PEI 2014 Audit Required Before Election - NDP PEI Press Release
Released on January 5th, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Charlottetown, PE – (January 5, 2015) – NDP PEI Leader Mike Redmond is insisting the provincial government publish an independent audit of the $27 million in PEI 2014 spending well in advance of the provincial election.
“Given that Islanders have experienced tax and fee increases along with cuts to jobs and services, it is very important that soon we all get a chance to read an independent audit of how the 2014 celebration money was spent,” stated Redmond.
Tourism and Culture Minister Robert Henderson indicated in September 2014 that MRSB had been hired to do an independent audit of the 2014 spending.
“It is important that Islanders see an audit that gives specifics about why certain projects were supported and others not, as well as if project results matched expected outcomes laid out in project contracts. Was the project selection done properly? And did we get value from money from the projects that were supported?” added the NDP Leader.
Top government officials including Premier Ghiz and Deputy Premier Webster have speculated on a provincial election before the fixed election date of April 2016, perhaps even in late winter of 2015.
“The Liberals are bullying their way to an early election. We do not want the PEI 2014 audit to get lost in this aggressively hurried situation. Let’s see a full and proper independent professional audit on PEI 2014 spending as soon as possible,” concluded Redmond.
Green Party PEI Leader Peter Bevan-Baker called out about the year-end interview with Premier Ghiz:
Fixed Election Date Comment Draws Ire of Green Party Leader - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Published on January 05, 2015
Premier Robert Ghiz’s assertion that his biggest mistake as premier was bringing in fixed election dates has caught the ire of Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.
Bevan-Baker argues the province’s democratic institutions were designed to ensure the will of the people is reflected in the legislature.
“The Westminster style of democracy we adopted here in Canada came from a desire to take power away from an unopposed monarch and pass it to the people. Over centuries we have arrived at the electoral system we now use where every adult citizen has an opportunity every four years or so to elect the people they prefer to make our collective decisions,” Bevan-Baker said.
“The painful irony of our current situation on P.E.I. is that by political sleight of hand, Liberals, in crowning King Wade (MacLauchlan), are effectively restoring the unrestricted regal power our democracy sought to eliminate,” said Bevan-Baker.
He pointed out Alberta, which currently has a similar political situation to P.E.I., has seen no need to return to the polls to allow their new premier Jim Prentice to seek a mandate.
“The P.E.I. Liberal attempts to explain the ‘need for an election’ are all bogus nonsense, and have no basis in democratic principles. I only wish that more Islanders would recognize it for what it is naked political opportunism,” said Bevan-Baker.
“The Westminster style of democracy we adopted here in Canada came from a desire to take power away from an unopposed monarch and pass it to the people." Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker
For Premier Ghiz to call fixed election dates his ‘biggest mistake’ in the context of PNP, Plan B and the Geosweep debacle, is baffling to say the least, he added.
Fixed election dates are a definite improvement to our democracy - they even the playing field, remove political opportunism available to governing parties and allow all parties to prepare financially and otherwise, Bevan-Baker asserts.
They also encourage a wider array of potential candidates to come forward, he said.
Far from Ghiz’s biggest mistake, Bevan-Baker believes fixed election dates could be looked upon as one small glimmer of good governance.
“How about a New Year’s resolution for all Islanders to give up once and for all a really bad habit, one that we have developed over many elections and passed from one generation to the next. Let’s quit voting for people and parties who, above all, look after themselves, and have consistently let us down,” he said.
“It’s time to elect parliamentarians who will carry out their roles as they were originally designed to represent their constituents first and foremost, and abandon mindless slavery to their party.”
Tonight is a Pesticide Free PEI meeting at 7PM at the Haviland Club, corner of Haviland and Water Streets, Charlottetown.
January 6, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Alan Holman wrote another gruff but eye-opening opinion piece recently:
Dire Need for Political Smarts - The Guardian column by Alan Holman
Published on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
Moving convention to February worst political mistake of year
Ah, a new year, a time for resolutions. Some people make lists. The longer the list, the less likely the resolutions will be adhered to.
So, for the P.E.I. Conservatives a single resolution should suffice. One resolution, strictly followed.
‘We, the P.E.I. PC Party, for the good of the Party, and for the benefit of all Prince Edward Islanders, resolve that in the future we will count to 10 before making any strategic moves, we further resolve that we will make more astute strategic political moves in 2015, than we did in 2014.’
Last November, after Premier Robert Ghiz announced his resignation plans, the amiable minister of agriculture, George Webster stood in the Legislature and indicated that the government wished to eliminate the October fixed election date, to allow the new Liberal leader the flexibility to call an election at his pleasure.
On Nov. 18 when George Webster rose in the legislature and spoke about changing the fixed election date, he was putting the worm on the hook. In the Legislature the Conservatives questioned the need for changing the law, and they demanded to know if the Liberals were planning a spring election.
Then the Tories panicked.
With a new Liberal leader in place on Feb. 22, and their leadership convention not scheduled until May 30, the Conservative hierarchy, including Party President Peter McQuaid, spooked themselves into believing they would be forced to fight an election campaign without a new leader in place. Those dastardly Liberals have no honour and fewer scruples.
On Nov. 27 the Conservatives indicated they had swallowed the worm, the hook, the line and the sinker. The announced they were changing the date of their convention from May 30, to February 28. They did this because they were convinced the nefarious Liberals were certain to call an election while they were in the middle of a leadership campaign.
But, just how likely was it that the Liberals would call an election when their primary opponents were in the midst of a leadership contest? Most people would view such a move as unconscionably opportunistic.
Had the Conservatives waited one more day before announcing they were changing the date of their convention, they would have heard the presumptive leader of the Liberals, Wade MacLauchlan, talk about how he intends to lower the level of acrimony in political debate by appealing to the ‘better nature’ of Islanders.
Even Conservative hawks should recognize that it would be difficult to ‘appeal to the better nature’ of Islanders and at the same time call an election whilst the Tories were in the throughs of leadership campaigning.
By assuming the ‘evil nature’ of the Liberals, the Conservatives have now set up a scenario where the Liberals can call an election as soon as the Tory new leader is named.
It is a scenario that appeals to the Liberals because it goes beyond simply catching the new Tory leader before has time to get used to his new role. By saying they will be ready for an election as soon as they have a new leader, the Conservatives have given the Liberals a pass to call an election without a legislative session. It means Wade MacLauchlan can go to the polls carrying little of the Ghiz government’s baggage.
He can claim he is a new man, with a new vision and, hopefully, a bunch of new candidates.
Had the Conservatives not panicked and held their leadership convention on May 30, Wade MacLauchlan would have been be premier on, or about, Feb. 22. He would have had to govern for at least three months before calling an election. Three months to watch a neophyte premier undergo his on-the-job training. In politics where it is said that a week is a lifetime, three months is an eternity.
Chances are the government would have gone to the Legislature in March or April to pass a budget in order to carry on the affairs of state. Mr. MacLauchlan would have likely gone to the Legislature with the existing cabinet.
Coupled with the difficulty of being a novice premier he would have had to run a legislative agenda without a seat. By bringing down a budget and governing for three months, Mr. MacLauchlan might have made a few slips and created his own baggage to carry into the next election.
But the Conservatives saved the Liberals from all that when they changed the date of their convention. It might have been the worst political mistake of the year.
Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Moi Enomenga lives in Ecuador, a member of the Huaorani people in the Amazon rainforest. In recent years, as oil and other resource extraction companies from other other countries have exploited the natural wealth, he has been one of the people working with other groups to promote eco-tourism in the area; he hopes by opening a window into their lives, he can help save their way of life.
His essay, the January 6th entry in Global Chorus, comes from such a completely different point of view that the others, it is quite striking.
<<snip>> "So we started to think of ways to keep people here in the community and not lose our identity. People call it tourism, but what we see is a way to keep things form falling apart, of letting people see what is happening to us." - Moi Enomenga, president of the Quehueri'ono Association (Ecuador)
National Geogrpahic magazine on-line has a fantastic article on Moi, here:
Tonight are NaturePEI and An Icelandic Evening, and also the start of a few community schools. Some details here:
January 5, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Recapping Cassandra PEI as it clarifies steps to "charting a new course":
Step 1: Admit there is a problem with how we are treating our Island land with the dominant industrial model of agriculture
Step 2: Transform the Carrots and Sticks (stop supporting what we don't want, encourage what we do)
Step 3: Identify the Challenges (including reforming the tax systems, among others)
Step 4: Cultivate Diversity (in agriculture, which has ripple effects)
Step 5: Develop and Protect the PEI Brand (below) -- A Brand is much more than a logo, a Brand is a Promise
This posting, from Facebook, here:
was originally from November 13th:
Cassandra PEI's November 13th, 2014, posting, with this eye-catching illustration (screenshots)
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet is introducing many contributors who may not be too well known to some of us:
Jason Robinson is a young person working on creating an on-line community of positive communications via the internet.
Sustainability Television's interview with Todd MacLean about the project:
A quote from Jason Robinson's January 5th essay, more of a beautiful free verse poem:
"Heaven is some far-off dream -- it's right here, right now. To save the world all we need to do is to start with loving and caring for the world and each other a lot more."
Tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 6th, in addition to the first night of a couple of Community Schools (http://peicommunityschools.com/),
one has a choice of "Bird Mortality in Canada: Assessing the Impacts of Cats and Other Human-related Sources", by Richard Elliot, Nature PEI meeting (7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House)
On Tuesday evening, January 6th, Dr. Richard Elliot will be the featured speaker at the Nature PEI monthly meeting. The title of his presentation is “Bird Mortality in Canada: Assessing the Impacts of Cats and Other Human-related Sources.” Dr. Elliot is the Director of Wildlife Research with Environment Canada.
Rosemary Curley, President of Nature PEI indicated “This is a great opportunity to learn about the causes of the decline in the populations of wild birds that occur in Canada as Dr. Elliot will describe the results of Environment Canada’s assessment of the impact of human-related activities on birds. The presentation will focus specifically on the negative effect that pet and feral cats cause on bird populations. It will also give us better information as to what we can do personally to prevent this wild bird carnage.”
Dr. Elliot has worked with the Canadian Wildlife Service since obtaining his PhD from the University of Aberdeen. He has studied seabirds and shorebirds throughout Atlantic Canada and the eastern Arctic, and became a research manager with the Canadian Wildlife Service – Environment Canada since 1991, in charge of migratory bird research and monitoring programs in Atlantic Canada. Richard began bird-watching as a youth near Montreal, and maintained his interest in birds during his studies at Queen’s, Acadia and Aberdeen Universities, and throughout his working career. Richard has been instrumental in developing the concept of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) in Canada, particularly with the Sea-Duck Joint Venture, the Canadian Shorebird Conservation Plan, and Wings Over Water – the conservation plan for seabirds and colonial waterbirds.
Rosemary Curley encourages everyone to “Reserve Tuesday, January 6th at 7:30 PM to join the Nature PEI meeting in the Carriage House at Beaconsfield on the corner of West and Kent Streets in Charlottetown. Admission is free and all are welcome.”
and An Evening of Icelandic Culture, hosted by the Institute of Island Studies, 7:30PM, UPEI Faculty Lounge. Admission by donation, cash bar.
Welcome to an Icelandic Evening/Íslensk Kvöldstund á PEI
The Institute of Island Studies, in partnership with the Vinland Society of Prince Edward Island, invites you to a cozy evening of Icelandic culture. On January 6, at 7:30 p.m. in UPEI’s Main Building Faculty Lounge, settle back into a comfy armchair with a glass of wine and some “Vínarterta” and take in the scenery from the country’s spectacular landscape, listen to the sagas, and enjoy the art and culture of these northern islanders who sailed our way some 1,000 years ago.
Prince Edward Island photographer John Sylvester will give a taste of this in a slide show from his recent trip there, whetting your appetite for a closer look at the culture, including a short reading from the sagas, a bit of music, poetry, and a little practice with the language, which was brought by the Norse in the 9th century. Sigga MacEachern, who was originally from Iceland and who now calls Prince Edward Island home, will spice up your “Icelandic Evening” with an introduction to some of the most common words that might be used on your journey. She has also graciously volunteered to provide a sample of a traditional seasonal taste treat.
The evening is open to all who have a heart for adventure, and begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by donation, and there will be a cash bar. Come on to the Faculty Lounge in Main Building for some armchair Icelandic!
January 4, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
There is no "bold is mine", as every single word would need to be.
PNP Reveals Depth of Disorder in Island Politics - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale
Published Saturday, January 3rd, 2015, in The Guardian
A response to the year-end interview with Premier Ghiz by Wayne Thibodeau of the Guardian. Yes Premier Ghiz, we all know that many legitimate companies received money from the PNP program. You keep repeating that, and did again in your year-end interview with the Guardian, but it’s largely irrelevant when it comes to allegations of mismanagement and graft. It’s a little like saying that someone who swindled a great deal of money and gave a portion of it to the Food Bank and the QEH is not a thief - a way of thinking that is actually quite common within the philanthropic, moneyed class.
I recognize the word ‘graft’ may seem harsh, and yet it describes accurately what happened. Graft, after all, is “…to acquire money by questionable means, as by taking advantage of one’s official position.” [Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary] If there was no graft associated with the PNP program then graft does not exist.
And how much money was it? To put the PNP rake-off in context one needs to recall that within a couple of years during your administration more than twice as many dollars flooded into the province than during the entire Fifteen Year Comprehensive Development Plan (1969-1984) and were dispersed without a shred of public input. Yes, you and your associates did spread the money around, but to the individuals and companies of your choosing, and all in secret. A half a billion dollars was distributed to folks who, for the most part, were already well off, and scarcely a penny to the poor. Not good. Not just.
The biggest boondoggle in Island history, perhaps in Canadian history, unfolded surreptitiously during the watch of two successive Island premiers, and yet you inform us jauntily, with juvenile effrontery, that it was all just fine, and couldn’t have been handled any better. The frightening thing is, I believe you have said that so often you are beginning to believe it yourself.
Finally Mr. Premier, perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that the PNP has revealed clearly the depth of the disorder at the heart of Island politics. Our patronage-friendly system was already in place when you became Premier, but you and your colleagues took it to a new level of blatancy. Never was the slurping at the trough heard so loudly. Never has the need for fundamental reform been so apparent to so many. That being the case I suppose Islanders can give wry thanks for the PNP. In a back-handed, and altogether inadvertent way, it might have been your greatest accomplishment.
David Weale of Charlottetown is an Island author and retired professor of Canadian and Prince Edward Island history at UPEI.
The January 4th Global Chorus essay was written by Merrell-Ann Phare, who is a lawyer and executive director of The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER), a non-governmental organization for First Nations peoples' environmental issues, especially water rights. She is based in Manitoba, I think. Her books, some published by Rocky Mountain Press, along with Global Chorus, include Ethical Water: Learning to Value What Matters Most with Robert William Sandford, and Denying the Source: The Crisis of First Nations Water Rights.
Merrell-Ann Phare, from Rocky Mountain Books website.
My favourite part of her three paragraphs is the middle one:
What do we do to get to a "consume less, share more" mindset? The first step is modest but absolutely critical: you must reconnect to the Earth. So, go outside. If you live in a city, find a green space. If you frequent green spaces, go farther out, into the wilder spaces. Listen to the sounds of the ecosystem. It supports you. Breathe the air. Find water there, bend down to it and notice it. Indigenous elders say to introduce yourself to all the new water you meet. Run your fingers through it. Sustainability of the Earth requires us to remember we are in a relationship of reciprocity with all of Nature. We need to rebuild that relationship. -- Merrell-Ann Phare, January 4th
It may be a little too easy to find water today with the rain expected, but you get her drift. I appreciate that she asks each of us to push our boundaries a bit, for it is relatively easy on P.E.I. to find green space, but necessary to go beyond.
January 3, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The first week in January means that many of the community schools across the Island begin. If you are looking for the full listing of schools:
These run weekly, for ten weeks or so, usually until the middle of March. The costs are kept to a minimum.
A school that is beginning its second year is at Colonel Gray, called City Centre Community School:
from its front page:
<< "The school maintains a focus of providing material which hasn’t yet been offered in community schools on the Island before as well as offering longtime favourites.
With a committee led by young adults from around Charlottetown, the City Centre Community School is building on an existing community school platform, but with a different approach and focus. Our goal is to raise awareness of the community school system in PEI, increasing its participation levels and the program’s sustainability for years to come. Each class will be held on Tuesday evenings, 7:00pm – 8:30pm. This includes a short break for community time, which gives a chance for students and instructors to share what they have learned or simply enjoy provided snacks and conversation.">>
Here are some of the courses offered: Photography, Belly dance, Knitting and Crocheting, Writing the Short Story, Introduction to Latin, The Fun of Improv Drama, Exploring Yoga and Meditation, Interactive Computing, Communication and Impromptu Speaking, and Cultivating Resilience in Your Community.
There is preregistration for some programs on the website, and some spaces held for people to walk in the first evening.
A focus on: "Cultivating Community Resilience"
from their description:
<<"This weekly course will introduce you to ideas and learning resources for building a sustainable and resilient community! Guest speakers and instructors will facilitate a collaborative enquiry with students into how we might cope with the climate and energy challenges we face today and make the transition to a world that works. Topics we will explore together include sustainable energy solutions, creating food systems that work, identifying transportation possibilities, future proofing our homes, local governance, and whole systems thinking.
This course will be facilitated by a dynamic, passionate group of action-oriented individuals including farmers, foodies, researchers, educators, entrepreneurs and other visionaries. Together, they share a vision of PEI as a prosperous and sustainable Island community, boldly navigating a challenging future. Each of them looks forward to sharing their unique knowledge, skills and energy, while also connecting with and learning from course participants.
Course facilitators include: Mathieu Arsenault, Shannon Courtney, Phil Ferraro, Adam MacLean, Jordan MacPhee, Lyndsay Moffatt, Carla Morgan, Lisa Steele, and Alison Walsh.
Related, very related, is what Global Chorus January 3rd writer Scott Kennedy says:
"The youth of today are inspired to change the world because they want to, not because we all need to. The sooner we get on the bandwagon of wanting to change the world, the closer we'll all be to getting there. And that destination is a place we all need to get to."
--Scott Kennedy, freelance writer, from Alberta, living in Queensland, New Zealand. More on him at his website:
More on Global Chorus here:
and the book should be at local booksellers (or on-line) if you were thinking of purchasing it.
The Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. is on social media, albeit in a shambling fashion.
You may follow us on Twitter, here:
and on Facebook, here:
and our website is here:
Cassandra PEI from November 12th, 2014, the 19th major posting:
January 2, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
First, Cassandra PEI's excellent New Year's Message:
from Cassandra PEI's Facebook page from January 1st, 2015.
Upcoming events -- Next week (locations and other details to follow):
Tuesday, January 6th: I think NaturePEI will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 6th, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield.
Wednesday, January 7th: Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM
Thursday, January 8th: LeadNow Meeting, 7PM
Saturday, January 10th: Pesticide Forum, 1-3PM, Alberton Community Centre.
from Facebook event posting here:
"Hosted by Pesticide PEI, this public forum will be a chance for an open, frank discussion about pesticides on PEI, focusing on West Prince.
Dr. Ron Matsuzuki - on Pesticides and cancer clusters
Malcolm Pitre - on the changes in the fishery and habitat destruction
Bruce Hyer, MP on Pesticide Regulation and testing banned chemicals on water sheds."
Check the Citizens' Alliance Calendar Page for more details:
Paul Hawken writes the essay in Global Chorus dated January 2nd. Todd writes in the Preface that receiving a response from Paul Hawken, and the stirring words Paul ends his essay with, made the project come together.
photo from Paul Hawken's webite, by Terrence McCarthy
I knew the name but really couldn't place Hawken, but he is (as you can guess) an environmentalist, and an author and entrepreneur. He started Smith and Hawken, the place that sold very good European-designed gardening tools, and left the company in the early 1990s. He was a civil rights worker in the 1960s, and in the past several decades has promoted and written extensively on the concept of Natural Capitalism, of changing the economic accounting the world uses to give worth to natural and human capital. A real correction.
An excerpt from his January 2nd essay:
"When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic, my answer is always the same: if you look at the science about what is happening on Earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand data. However, if you meet the people who are restoring Earth and the lives of the poor and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse." -- Paul Hawken
And the quote that inspired Todd, and hopefully others:
"Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are finished."
His website is here:
and there are several links to speeches, texts and videos that explain his ideas more fully.
This morning brings news that Mario Cuomo has died at age 82. He was the governor of New York from 1983 to 1995, and father of current governor Andrew Cuomo. I remember him best (though I may not have all the details accurate) for the story of his being appalled at hearing about police removing horseback-riding seniors from their mounts as they protested a potential nuclear waste depot in the state during his time in office. He cancelled the project; the example of listening to the electorate was not lost on many Islanders.
from the CNN story here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/01/us/mario-cuomo-dies-new-york-governor/index.html
"Asked once how he wanted to be remembered, Mario Cuomo replied: 'One of the simple things I wanted to achieve is -- I want to be governor.
I want to be the hardest working there ever was. And I want, when it's over -- and I figured on four years at first -- I want people to say, now, there was an honest person.' "
-- Mario Cuomo
Jean-Paul Arsenault brings up a similar point about listening in his letter to the editor from last week:
Belcourt Centre Part of Rustico Community - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jean-Paul Arsenault
Published Monday, December 29th, 2014, in The Guardian
I feel compelled to add my views to those of the many who have written about the future of the Belcourt Spirituality Centre in Rustico. I too am disappointed with the decision made by the Diocese of Charlottetown to plow ahead with its plan to demolish the existing building and replace it with a new spirituality centre. Regrettably, the process is all too reminiscent of the provincial government’s decision to ignore majority public opinion on Plan B.
The Diocese’s actions in this matter demonstrate, yet again, that the Catholic Church is not a democracy. It is rather an ‘ecclesiocracy’, defined as government by Church leaders. In fact, it has been clear almost from the outset that the Diocese would not allow public input into the decision, let alone change its plan.
It is common knowledge that the funds to build the new spirituality centre will come from a significant financial bequest to the Diocese by the late Owen Kelly. Funds from the Kelly estate were used to purchase and install the magnificent organ which now graces Saint Dunstan’s Basilica.
Mary and Owen would have been thrilled to hear it.
I knew the late Mary and Owen Kelly. My late mother was a good friend of theirs, and we visited their magnificent home in Summerside on many occasions. It was plain to me that these were two people who had a great respect and love for all things heritage.
I don’t question the Diocese’s legal authority to designate funds from the Kelly estate for the establishment of a new spirituality centre in Rustico. But I do wonder whether Bishop Grecco has ever asked himself: “What would Mary and Owen have wanted? How would they have wished me to proceed in this matter?”
On the front page of the Dec. 23 edition of the Globe and Mail, reference is made to a recent blistering critique of the Vatican bureaucracy by Pope Francis. In his Christmas address, the Pope listed 15 “Ailments of the Curia”, two of which I find to be particularly relevant to the Belcourt situation.
1. Planning too much. “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.”
2. Working without co-ordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you’ or the hand tells the head ‘I’m in charge.’”
As a Catholic, I regret deeply that the Diocesan hierarchy has not been more generous in dealing with the residents of Rustico whose families have lived there for generations. This building is part of their community. It is important to them. They ask for nothing more than time, reflection, consultation and study before the very important decision of what to do with the Belcourt Centre is made.
I ask Bishop Grecco to look deep into his heart, and to do what is right by the people of Rustico.
Jean-Paul Arsenault of Charlottetown served as executive secretary to the Commission on Land and Local Governance. He has a special interest in heritage.
January 1, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy New Year!
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, the book, is an anthology with an essay a day, starting, understandably, January 1st. I asked Todd MacLean, Pinette resident and editor-in-chief, if I could elaborate on the essays every so often, to keep the discussion going.
Photo of Global Chorus book (CO picture)
There is also a Facebook group here:
The book is for sale at local bookstores and through on-line book stores. Proceeds from the book are going to the Jane Goodall Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and the David Suzuki Foundation.
[I should mention I have bought copies from a local bookseller, for me and my sisters, which may be spoiling the surprise for one if mail has been slow :-) Todd has given the Citizens' Alliance a copy, which we are going to give as a door prize at the screening of the movie, Last Call at the Oasis, on Wednesday, January 14th (7PM, room 235, Robertson Library at UPEI).]
Todd is not one of the 365 contributors, but makes the overarching connection (from the Preface):
"<snip> If I were to briefly sum up my assessment of our global challenges at this time in our human evolution on Earth, it would be that we are doing far too much thinking about what is not possible and not enough believing about what is possible."
The questions Todd sent to participants:
"Do you think that humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crisis?
Will we be able to create the conditions necessary for our own survival, as well as that of other species on the planet?
What would these conditions look like?
In summary, then, and in the plainest of terms, do we have hope, and can we do it?"
The first essay is by Jane Goodall. (How wonderful is that?) After her essay, she is listed with her degree [her PhD in ethology (animal behaviour)] and her Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, being the United Nations Messenger of Peace, and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, which is here:
image from janegoodall.org
Jane starts: "Can we save Planet Earth? Of course we CAN. The question is, will we? We have indeed disturbed the balance of Nature everywhere, as environments are destroyed by the desperation of millions living in crippling poverty and the selfish unsustainable lifestyles of the rest of us."
She ends with her conviction in the awareness and abilities of today's young people, and with faith in the human spirit.
At her website, you see what she and her team are up to -- helping chimps survive while understanding the human survival pressures in those parts of Africa and working with young people through her program "Roots and Shoots." From the Roots and Shoots website:
Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is the youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. The program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people. Through the program, young people map their community to identify specific challenges their neighborhoods face. From there, they prioritize the problems, develop a plan for a solution, and take action.
and the Canada page is here:
(A P.E.I. note: A few months ago I took an on-line training course to be certified as a Roots and Shoots coordinator, and I just haven't gotten into gear -- a New Year's resolution for 2015.)
There are ways to get involved in her work by reading more, and/or considering donating to her efforts.
Jane Goodall has recently been interviewed for Alternatives Journal: Canada's Environmental Voice (October 2014), which is here:
Unrelated to the Jane Goodall article, the publication also contains this editorial cartoon, which caught my eye:
Screenshot of editorial cartoon in October 2014 issue of Alternatives Journal.
That's plenty for a new day.