March 2015

March 31, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight, Tuesday, March 31:

FairVote / LeadNow meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club (upstairs room). All are welcome to come and learn more about proportional representation and how you can help get this issue "on the radar" during the next elections (both provincial and federal). A fantastic group of people who would be happy for more interested Islanders to stop in and help out a little bit.

Food thoughts:

There is another glossy wave of marketing to "explain" farming and create positive images concerning agricultural issues. A slogan "Faith in our Farmers...Pride in our Products" or something like that feels a bit like a reworded hymn.

First off, we all eat and should thank many farmers several times a day for what they do. Second, the pressures all farmers are under must be indescribable, and likely produce annoyance at people who don't have a clue.

But these campaigns are often financed by CropLife or other large trade associations whose members benefit from selling "inputs" to farmers for fertilizer and for pest control. In fact, if you follow the marketing materials' links, you find that CropLife gave $100,000 towards the "Real Dirt" campaign and such, so they must be making a tidy profit on their activities to have so much for these marketing sidelines. Others have commented on the sanitized content of the publications.

VisionPEI had a good post on their Facebook page yesterday, more eloquent than I:

The farming community on Prince Edward Island is comprised of our friends, neighbors and in many cases, our relatives. Those who know farmers do not believe they are irresponsible, uncaring members of our community. Vision PEI doesn't believe that either. Yes, as in any industry there are those who behave poorly, but the majority are simply struggling to compete in a global market that rewards large operations by demanding nothing but ‘cheap’, and disadvantages our small Island. In a word, those who address the topic sometimes find it easier to criticize farmers than to understand them, and their plight. And, after all, the folks demanding the cheap food are as much a part of the situation as those growing it. Farmers will continue to be vital partners in our vision of excellence for PEI. Our goals are compatible, let’s be a united force for change.


Good point about the consumers looking for the cheapest food, that is to say the "best deal" -- it is hard to blame that mindset, but we can change some of our own habits. One small way that has big effects is to join a CSA, or community-shared-agriculture group. You pay the farmer up front for about 16-20 weeks of a share of his or her produce ready that week. The farmer gets money to farm with in spring, and you get good local food, to eat or process or both, for the growing season. The food value, *very* generally speaking on personal experiences, can be about 25% savings than if you bought the same items individually.

There are wonderful variations -- meat CSAs, eggs, bread, etc. in addition to the wonderful original "veggie box." Timing variations can be found, some going week by week, or bi-weekly, etc. You can always ask to see if you can make it work for you-- there are different ways to pay, offer to work for part of the share, etc. Just ask.

Many farmers want to get their subscription list signed up for now, by early April or so. These past several years , I was frustrated that there was no single listing of Island CSAs in spring so people could find one, see if it had space, and sign up. The province (to their credit) does the PEI Fresh Flavours map, but it didn't come out until August in 2014, and it covers a lot of operations, not just CSAs. Anyway, the dynamic Pauline Howard of the PEI Food Exchange took the idea and ran, and has organized a page exclusively of Island CSAs on the PEI Food Exchange website. A huge thank-you to her.

Please have a look at the various options and locations and see if you could make it work; and feel free to pass the information on.

One young farmer mentioned a survey that he asked me to pass this on:

The new farmer survey CLOSES TODAY (Tuesday, March 31st). This is your last chance to complete and circulate the survey in your networks. The National New Farmer Coalition and the University of Manitoba created this survey to assess the needs of new farmers in Canada where it concerns policy and educational opportunities. The results will feed into the development of a National New Farmer Policy Platform and will serve to document the sources of new farmer learning in Canada. We want to hear from people who are currently farming, want to be a farmer, or have recently exited farming.

We need 100 more responses to reach our respondent target: please help us achieve our goal by forwarding this link to your farming/foodie networks and help us promote this survey through your social media channels:

Facebook: New farmer survey: Last day! You have until TODAY (Tuesday, March 31st) to tell us about the experience and needs of new farmers in Canada (and be entered to win over $1500 in prizes) Last day for new farmer survey in Canada! Take our survey by TODAY (Tuesday, March 31st) and be entered for prizes:

Thank you for your help,

The National New Farmer Coalition (a group of new and young farmers from across Canada, as well as organizations including: the National Farmers Union, Young Agrarians and Food Secure Canada) and Julia Laforge (University of Manitoba PhD Candidate)

For more information, please contact:

Virginie Lavallée-Picard, NNFC Interim Coordinator,

Julia Laforge,

The Global Chorus essay is written by Thomas Packenham, an 81 year old "Anglo-Irish historian and arborist", who writes of the challenges ahead:

<snip> " I am not so hopeful that the world’s governments will tackle the problem of climate change before it does irreversible damage to our planet. It will be many years before the western democracies, gulled by

Big Oil, finally wake up to the reality that extreme weather is here for good. And extreme weather means more droughts, more floods, more hurricanes, rising sea levels. Meanwhile the consumer boom, based on an addiction to fossil fuels, will go on its merry way, and politicians will keep their heads firmly in the sand." -- Thomas Pakenham

Let's stop being "gulled by Big Oil."

March 30, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Training session for the public for the Climate Diary, contact (902) 620-5221 or email for more details.


"The Climate Lab will be hosting a training session for the public on the evening of March 30 on how to identify P.E.I.’s plants and birds for recording in the Climate Diary. For more details, email or call us at 620-5221. P.E.I.’s Climate Diary is a written record of changes in the environment as they occur year-to-year over the next 25 years. These records will help scientists understand changes in the climate system and how these events are influenced by seasonal and inter-annual variations in climate."

The training session is free but the cost of the journal is $10.

The Halifax Media Co-op tagline is that it publishes "News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots" and includes stories affecting P.E.I., also.

Zack Metcalfe, former Graphic writer, now freelancer and Sierra Club head of the Blue Whale Campaign, wrote on Saturday. It's a lengthy read but a great effort and hats off to Andrew Lush for his contributions to P.E.I.

"The One Red Line We Must Not Cross" - Halifax Media Co-op article by Zack Metcalfe

PEI ban on fracking is overdue

Published on-line on Saturday, March 28th, 2015

In late February, Judy Profitt was driving through the Brackley Beach portion of the Prince Edward Island National Park, located on the north shore of this petite province, when she encountered Alan Goodwin.

Goodwin had a tent pitched on the roadside and equipment set up in the snow, very near where the beach gives way to frozen ocean. Profitt thought perhaps Goodwin was winter camping or indulging in some nature photography, judging by the tripods set up around his tent. This wasn’t the case.

“He told me his equipment can ‘see’ down 4 km under the surface of earth or water,” said Profitt. “I asked if they were checking the water table, as PEI is dependent on the ground water supply for drinking water and I know some wells have been going dry the past few years. He said, no, his equipment can pick up mineral deposits, oil and natural gas.”

It was an exceedingly cold day, causing Profitt to retreat to her van and then travel home. Once there she searched online for information about Adrok, the company Goodwin said he represented.

Adrok is a Scottish based company which, among other things, uses electromagnetic pulses to identify underground materials of interest to extractive industries, namely oil, gas and mining. In February of last year, they opened Adrok Canada on Prince Edward Island with financial support from the provincial government, amounting up to $212,000 in labour rebates and, to a lesser extent, rental incentives.

“That's when I started getting concerned that perhaps this company was looking for natural gas and the alarming thought of fracking entered my mind,” said Profitt.

Though a key part of Adrok’s business, Goodwin was not searching for oil and gas in the PEI National Park. He was testing the performance of his equipment in extremely cold weather. What’s more, he was pointing his equipment at the sky, not the ground, in an effort to properly calibrate the gear. The park was chosen for its clear skies and the lack of tall obstructions nearby, such as buildings and towering trees.

“One of the misnomers I got from environmental groups was that we were covertly looking for oil and gas on Prince Edward Island, which wasn’t the case,” said Goodwin, who is vice-president of operations with Adrok. “At this time we have no plans for oil and gas work in Atlantic Canada.”

Though a key part of Adrok’s business, Goodwin was not searching for oil and gas in the PEI National Park. He was testing the performance of his equipment in extremely cold weather. What’s more, he was pointing his equipment at the sky, not the ground, in an effort to properly calibrate the gear. The park was chosen for its clear skies and the lack of tall obstructions nearby, such as buildings and towering trees.

“One of the misnomers I got from environmental groups was that we were covertly looking for oil and gas on Prince Edward Island, which wasn’t the case,” said Goodwin, who is vice-president of operations with Adrok. “At this time we have no plans for oil and gas work in Atlantic Canada.”

Lush said PEI is particularly vulnerable to the dangers of this industry, even more so than surrounding provinces, because all of PEI draws its groundwater from a single aquifer. Lush said PEI is very soft geologically and there are places where the shale bed (the rock layer fractured during the fracking process) actually intersects their single aquifer, increasing the possibility of groundwater contamination.

For these reasons and others, Lush and his organization says a ban on fracking is overdue. Lush points at the recently renewed moratorium in Nova Scotia, a precautionary measure put in place following a provincial review of hydraulic fracturing and its potential consequences.

“We’ve got worse shale than Nova Scotia,” said Lush. “We have worse bedrock than them. We should at least take the same precautions.”

PEI has a brief and unfortunate history with fracking. Six vertical wells were drilled across the province little under a decade ago, one of which is in Green Gables, Cavendish. It became known as the Green Gables Well, drilled by Halifax’s own Corridor Resources. On Dec 10, 2007, a broken pipe resulted in a spill of fracking fluid, a substance Lush described as both radioactive and toxic. The spill was reportedly cleaned to the satisfaction of the provincial government.

Before expiring in 2012, Lush said there were leases for 440,000 acres of land on PEI, available at $0.40 an acre. For context, the entire province totals just under 1.4 million acres, meaning these leases represented 31 per cent of the province. There are no active leases at this time.

Following Nova Scotia’s decision to renew its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in September of last year, PEI’s minister of environment, Janice Sherry, said there was no need for PEI to follow suit and declare whether it would ban or support fracking. This was because, then as now, there were no applications from industry to frack on PEI.

In an email to Lush on September 16 of last year, Sherry said, “the government's position on fracking has not changed. Future applications for hydraulic fracturing would not be considered without a complete Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to ensure groundwater resources and the environment would not be harmed.”

This brings Lush little comfort as other environmentally questionable projects, like the Plan B Highway Realignment in 2012, were approved after EIAs. He said the provincial government’s present attitude toward hydraulic fracturing isn’t very forward thinking.

“We’re trying to pre-empt any problems, or at least be able to be involved with the decision making [process], rather than the government doing it on their own,” said Lush. “Right now we don’t have any protection from fracking at all. Right now a company could come along and offer a bag of gold to the premier and they could be doing exploration tomorrow.”

Even from an economic perspective, Lush said fracking would be a detriment to PEI, a province which depends heavily on its tourism industry. Fracking platforms themselves look ugly to locals and tourists alike.

While job creation is often cited by supporters of fracking as a benefit of the industry, Lush points to a study conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts which ranks energy industries by how many jobs they create for every $1 million spent. The natural gas industry, of which fracking is a part, ranked dead last with only five jobs. Wind power produced over twice that, with 13 jobs for every $1 million investment. Solar ranked higher still with 14 jobs.

Wind, water, sun – energy for the long run is the official slogan of Don’t Frack PEI, arguing not only that fracking is a danger to PEI, but that it shouldn’t be taken seriously as a job creator or energy source when compared with the renewable alternatives available on PEI.

But their opposition to fracking on PEI is only one battle of many, said Lush. A growing coalition of groups on PEI intend to “win the war.”

In January of 2014, concerns over water quality became the unifying factor among environmental organizations the Island over, whether their focus was opposition to pesticide use, addressing the pandemic levels of runoff into local streams or preserving fish stocks. Groups like the Citizens Alliance of PEI, The PEI Watershed Alliance, Pesticide PEI, the Environmental Coalition of PEI, Save Our Seas and Shore and others joined to form the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water.

This coalition was inspired by the province wide debate over whether or not to lift a 12 year moratorium on high capacity deep water wells, a means of water extraction promoted by Cavendish Farms and the PEI Potato Board for irrigating crops. These wells are opposed by the coalition for fear of over-exploiting the Island’s sole aquifer. The moratorium was originally instilled in 2002 because of major drought conditions that year.

In January of 2014, concerns over water quality became the unifying factor among environmental organizations the Island over, whether their focus was opposition to pesticide use, addressing the pandemic levels of runoff into local streams or preserving fish stocks. Groups like the Citizens Alliance of PEI, The PEI Watershed Alliance, Pesticide PEI, the Environmental Coalition of PEI, Save Our Seas and Shore and others joined to form the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water.

This coalition was inspired by the province wide debate over whether or not to lift a 12 year moratorium on high capacity deep water wells, a means of water extraction promoted by Cavendish Farms and the PEI Potato Board for irrigating crops. These wells are opposed by the coalition for fear of over-exploiting the Island’s sole aquifer. The moratorium was originally instilled in 2002 because of major drought conditions that year.

“The Blue Dot organization’s work to get environmental rights is at least providing some framework,” said Lush, “some overarching rules which would be broken by fracking and offshore oil development and water extraction and pesticides and nitrates and everything, so it’s the right way to go, I think. Other than fighting battles, we’re fighting the war with this one.”

Sarah Harmer writes as beautifully as she sings, and she writes in today's Global Chorus:

"Like all of nature, we humans are both vulnerable and resilient. I believe the key to our success and our survival is found in moving away from our individual quests and toward actions that recognize our interdependence and our moral obligations to each other." -- Sarah Harmer

more info about her:

March 29, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This open letter to Premier MacLauchlan, by columnist Alan Holman, under his non de plume "The Meddler", was printed in yesterday's Guardian:

An Open Letter: Delay the Election, Mr. Premier - The Guardian columnist Alan Holman

Published on Saturday, March 28th, 2015, in The Guardian

Dear Premier: The day you announced your intention to seek the Liberal leadership many people, Tories included, thought the ensuing election would be a cake-walk for you.

Not long after that you indicated the election would be held “on dry ground” and many, including your humble correspondent, took that to mean near the end of April.

Since then, two things have happened. About 100 more centimetres of snow fell making ‘dry ground’ by the end of April dubious, and, the potential of your runaway victory has diminished.

The first was an act of nature, and the second was the natural consequence of unreasonably high expectations. You had no where to go but down.

However, you may be down further than you want.

Harold Macmillan, a former British prime minister, when asked what he feared most in politics, supposedly said, “events, dear boy, events.”

There have been a number of ‘events’ since you’ve assumed the premiership, none them of your own making. None of them good.

First, there was the Conservative race where Rob Lantz was elected as leader. It was a real contest, unlike your coronation. And it energized the Tories in a way they haven’t been for nearly a decade. Mr. Lantz is a presentable young man, who appears to be relatively competent.

Other ‘events’ that have done you no good are the public revelations of some questionable practices of the Ghiz regime. The government’s e-gaming project and the role played by people seemingly with special knowledge, and the

stonewalling by government for any kind of public examination of the Provincial Nominee Program. Both leave the impression that friends of the government benefited unduly.

Clearly, Mr. Premier, you had nothing to do with any of these ‘events’ but you are now the leader of the government and your response has been at best tepid.

Tinkering with the conflict of interest guidelines and simply saying “it is not the way I do business” doesn’t cut it.

Rightly or wrongly when faced with what appears to be a culture of moral laxity, people expect more.

Mr. Lantz recognized this, hence his call for a Royal Commission into e-gaming, PNP, and the write-off of government loans.

Though you have shed yourself of a third of the Ghiz cabinet and a few staffers, the general perception is that there isn’t a lot of daylight between you and the former government. As you head into an election, in the face of no evidence to the contrary, it is assumed that most of the back-room players who brought the Ghiz government to power are still place. And, they’ll be hoping for the same generous considerations they’ve enjoyed in the past.

With everyone expecting an election call within days, there’s no time to change these perceptions. What to do?

Mr. Premier, buy yourself some time.

Where is it written that there needs to a general election this spring? In fact the Elections Act says the election should on the first Monday of October, and failing that, on the fourth Monday of April, 2016.

Hold byelections in the vacant seats immediately. Then call the legislature and present a budget, plus any other legislation you deem desirable. Govern for six months, or a year, and then have an election.

Chances are you and Mr. Lantz will win your seats, let the others fall as they may.

This would enable you to distance yourself from the previous regime and a chance to demonstrate your political and governing skills. It would give Islanders a chance to judge both you and Mr. Lantz as politicians.

As it stands now, we being asked to choose between two political unknowns. How fair is that?


The Meddler.

Several of us combined "Earth Hour" last night with chatting by candlelight about our late friend Mitch MacKinnon and all he loved, about the Plan B protest, and working for this island Mitch so dearly loved.


Today's Global Chorus is by Tony Juniper, a British environmentalist and campaigner, and former executive director of Friends of the Earth International.

Here is some of his writing from the U.K. Guardian:

A snippet from his essay:

"Meeting human needs while maintaining the fabric of Nature requires that we look at changing really quite massive forces – namely our economic system and its related consumerist culture." --Tony Juniper


"Images of Iceland" presentation by photographer John Sylvester, 7:30PM, BIS Hall (Irish Cultural Centre), North Rover Road, Charlottetown. Admission by free-will donation.

from the organizers:

“Images of Iceland,” with John Sylvester

One of main objectives of The Vinland Society of Prince Edward Island is to establish closer links between this Island and Iceland. And what better way to do that, during this lingering snow-season, than to pay a summer visit to Iceland – in the company of an outstanding Island photographer.

John Sylvester’s multitude of Island fans are in for a special treat. Last June, this award-winning Prince Edward Island nature and landscape photographer travelled to Iceland where he spent a week capturing vivid images along the southern coast of that dramatically beautiful island country. The visual contrasts are remarkable, in this land of volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, lovely villages and verdant valleys. And the quality of the all-night June light is stunning.

On Sunday evening, March 29th, The Vinland Society will sponsor a special evening presentation – “Images of Iceland” -- featuring John Sylvester and his Iceland slides. The start time is 7:30. The location is the Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall), on North River Road, Charlottetown. All are welcome. Admittance is by free-will donation.

John Sylvester’s many honours include being four-time winner of the Canadian Tourism Commission’s Northern Lights Awards for Excellence in Travel, Journalism and Photography – in 2003, 2005, 2009, and 2011. He has published six books, specializing in Prince Edward Island photography, the most recent being Prince Edward Island: Landscape and Light (Acorn Press, 2014).

For more information, contact John Sylvester:


or Harry Baglole (Vinland Society), 902-675-4134

And the Bonshaw ceilidh is at 2PM, at the Bonshaw Hall, admission by donation.

March 28, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Random notes:

Tonight in Bonshaw is a drop-in celebration of Mitch MacKinnon's life, starting at 7PM, at the Bonshaw Community Centre. All are welcome to reminisce about the life of a caring individual.

Mitch Celebration

Earth Hour falls tonight, from 8:30 to 9:30PM (it's always local time, the last Saturday in March). Though it hasn't gotten much press this year, it's an initiative to encourage people to unplug for one hour. It doesn't mean sitting in the cold and dark; its aim is to encourage people to reflect on our consumption.

The two larger Farmers' Markets are open today, and tomorrow the Charlottetown Farmers' Market is having a unique series of Sunday events to raise money to make the place more accessible.

Sunday, March 29th, Maple Sugar Shack Social at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market (in the lunch room area).

"Pancakes, Maple Taffy, LIVE Music and Games for the whole family to enjoy. Join us!

RSVP (902) 626-3373 or email at"

There are costs, as it is a fundraiser, and I am assuming the RSVP is to get an idea of numbers for pancakes and such.

On Thursday it was announced that the Liberals have the provincial deficit $5 million...coincidental that $5 million is the same amount as was left in a particular minister's budget. But the amount of the deficit wasn't really discussed.


The Progressive Conservative Leader, Rob Lantz, showed acumen and responded to yesterday's pallid main editorial arguments in The Guardian about why or why not some sort of public inquiry is needed (read from the bottom up):


Today's Global Chorus is from environmental and instructor Andrew Revkin, who writes about:

So what are the traits to cultivate in a sustainable society capable of working assertively on the environmental and social challenges with which we are faced?

As I’ve distilled them, they almost make a rhyme: bend, stretch, reach, teach, reveal, reflect, rejoice, repeat.

Bend, of course, is about flexibility and avoiding brittleness in both structures and policies. Stretch is about testing boundaries, via both exploration and innovation – sustaining curiosity and the courage to fail and fear.

Reach is empathy and maintaining a collaborative, communicative culture that is best able to share and shape ideas that matter. Teach is nurturing in children the capacity to sustain the human adventure and cherish the home planet.

Reveal means sustaining the capacity for observation and transparency.

Reflect is analysis and follow up. Initiatives are often launched, but outcomes rarely tracked.

Rejoice means relishing the git of life and humanness, with all its merits and faults.

Repeat is the discipline to avoid resting on laurels, to retest systems, examine conventions, to go back to step one. In a world focused on numbers – gigatons of gases, gigawatts of power, billions of dollars and people – any work to shift toward a focus on capacities can work wonders. --Andrew Revkin

March 27, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Our CBC in P.E.I. is going to lose two positions,it was announced yesterday. The folks there must feel like they are in some twisted game of musical chairs.


And consider what the CBC means to you when a federal election rolls around.

FairVote Canada is meeting next Tuesday, March 31st, its new regular monthly meeting day, 7PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown.

Reporter Taya Nabuurs, writing in The Cadre, UPEI's student newspaper, did a very good story on the Proportional Representation (PR) forum (which was held on March 14th on the UPEI campus), in their March 20th, 2015, edition.


From yesterday's Guardian:

Fair Vote Canada says Lantz committee proposal doesn't go far enough - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on Thursday, March 26th, 2015, in The Guardian

Dedicated Islanders Brenda Oslawsky of FairVote, Nouhad Mourad of People's Social Forum, and Marie Burge of the Cooper Institute at the Proportional Representation forum on March 14th, 2015, at UPEI.

Mitch MacDonald photograph


They like Rob Lantz’s idea but say it doesn’t go far enough.

Fair Vote Canada said it’s encouraging to hear the Progressive Conservative leader talking about bringing in proportional representation (PR) but the criteria needs to be stronger.

During a recent panel discussion in Charlottetown, Lantz said if his party forms the next government he would allow non-elected party members onto legislative committees if their parties hit certain benchmarks in the election.

The party must run candidates in at least 75 per cent of the districts and earn five per cent of the popular vote.

Lantz would then consider adding one representative to standing committees.

Fair Vote Canada’s national vice-president Brenda Oslawsky, who participated in the panel discussion, said she was encouraged by Lantz’s comments but more is needed

“The PC announcement appears to be a way to appease critics of distorted election results after an election,’’ Oslawsky said

Oslawsky said is doesn’t go far enough in creating a system that elects members of the legislative assembly based on the percentage of vote received by each party.

She said some parties only run a select number of candidates for a variety of reasons, including trying to put their best candidates in the best spot possible.

Both David MacKay, co-chairman of the action group LeadNow P.E.I., and Oslawsky said they are somewhat surprised that the Liberal Party of P.E.I. did not respond to a request for a statement on their party’s position on PR.

Oslawsky says all parties should commit to a process whereby a citizen’s assembly be formed and a public education plan be undertaken before the next provincial election so that a two-part referendum question be included in the 2019 election ballot, asking Islanders if they want to adopt PR and if so, what model.


Paul MacNeill writes his opinion on this in "Lantz proposes a baby step worth considering", here:


Candidates that have announced or been nominated in Districts for the four main P.E.I. political parties are in graph form here:

Unfortunately, on my computer, I had to slide the arrow back and forth to make the NDP and Green Party candidates' names appear. But it is something.

Dave Stewart, who wrote the PR story for The Guardian (above), is better known this winter and the guy in the snow graph, from:


National Geographic photographer and explorer, Canadian Jill Heinerth, writes today's Global Chorus essay.

more info:

"There is plenty of water on our big blue planet, but we are running out of clean freshwater we can afford. We all need to know where our water comes from, how we pollute it and how we can protect it for the future generations. We have to protect it from corporate interests whose success relies on commodifying and selling it to the highest bidder. Clean water is not just our greatest treasure, it is a basic human right. Helping young minds understand and embrace their water planet is key to our survival. We are water." -- Jill Heinerth

March 26, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Yesterday, PC Leader Rob Lantz announced if the Progressive Conservatives forms government he would cite the Public Inquiries Act and ask the Lieutenant Governor to call a Royal Commission, with three commissioners appointed after consultation with the other official P.E.I. parties (Green, Island, Liberal, NDP), to look into PNP, e-gambling, and the loans and such, and report back within a year. If a "royal commission" has all the abilities that a "public inquiry" would have, this is a huge step, as this indicates that all other parties (with the exception of the one currently forming government) support some sort of Public Inquires Act-based investigation into irregularities of governance in the past decade.


A related letter to the editor in The Guardian from a few days ago:

Loan Write-Offs on P.E.I. Are Getting Costly - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, March 21st, 2015, in The Guardian

Discovering that the government is secretly cancelling and writing off debts in the many millions of dollars is truly concerning for a province that, every year, has to go to the capital markets and borrow millions upon millions just to finance its day to day operations.

Every dollar we loan out is a borrowed dollar on which we pay interest. Given that interest rates look poised to rise, this cost is going to increase, and the cost of these loans will increase accordingly. These interest payments are dollars the government no longer has, which otherwise would pay for essential services. Put another way, these defaulted loans are robbing P.E.I. taxpayers of important essential services.

The auditor’s report does not even talk about non-performing loans which have not yet been written off or cancelled but are also not being repaid as per their terms and conditions. This unknown is probably scarier than what we do know.

The fact that this has all been done in private with such adverse effects should anger every Islander. We should know how much these loans are costing P.E.I. taxpayers. We should also know who is benefiting from these loans, which, in many cases, look more like grants.

Don Carroll,MBA and Dale Small,

Vision P.E.I.


Recent losses of people who made a difference:

from Andrew Lush at Don't Frack PEI:

Prince Edward Island has just lost a veteran campaigner for the environment. Muriel Siemers, who made her home in Stratford, passed away on Sunday. Muriel had recently brought her indomitable spirit and her wealth of knowledge to the task of educating Islanders about the dangers of fracking. Muriel, who was proud to have done her part to prevent uranium mining in Nova Scotia in the 1980s, was a shining example of an active senior in her later years, driving to meetings and even attending a public hearing on fracking last year in Nova Scotia. Her knowledge and wise guidance will be missed by many, including those of us on the committee of Don’t Frack PEI, and we will redouble our efforts in her name over the coming months.

And the Plan B Opposition lost Mitch MacKinnon last month, and we will be having a drop-in celebration Saturday night, March 28th, starting at 7PM, at the Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road. All are welcome.



Thursday, March 26th:

Movie: "Dirt! The Movie: A Story with Heart and Soil", 7PM, PEI Farm Centre, Admission by donation.


Presented by the PEI Food Security Network, "DIRT! The Movie tells the story of Earth’s most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility. This insightful and timely film tells the story of the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet."

Film and Panel Discussion: Passive Houses/Energy Efficiency, 7-9PM, AVC Lecture Theatre A, UPEI.

District 12 Charlottetown-Victoria Park Liberal Nomination Meeting, 6:30PM, Rodd Charlottetown. All welcome. Richard Brown is likely the only declared candidate at this time.


Yoga master Ted Grand writes today's Global Chorus essay. Among other things, he is the founder of Moksha Yoga (interesting article here:

"So, do I see humanity finding a way past these crises? Yes, absolutely! We just need to chill out, take care of our nervous systems, cultivate gratitude and reverence for the myriad systems that give us life, and reinforce the idea that if we are oriented towards peace, we will ensure our long-term survival (or at least better our chances!). Yoga and meditation make us more peaceful, so we become prone to making decisions that benefit others, including all of Nature: we buy less crap, we generate empathy and compassion and we see our planet as a git instead of a commodity." -- Ted Grant

March 25, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Phew. Our "collective indifference and inaction" allows this to happen (bold is mine).

Government of the Few, by the Few, for the Few - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Wayne Hooper

Published on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

For some time now a group of us have become increasingly concerned and even alarmed at the apparent misconduct of our provincial government with their involvement in an unsuccessful online e-gaming scheme. An exhaustive year-long investigation by a well-regarded retired RCMP officer and a recently published highly negative expose in the Globe and Mail, both highlight apparent inappropriate, unethical - or worse - activity by Island politicians, political staff and/or bureaucrats.

Apparently there were unsuccessful legal efforts to suppress the Globe and Mail article. Why? Fall out from these publications and others has been linked to a number of high-profile resignations - with no cries of innocence heard from those implicated, some of whom have quietly departed government with generous severance payments and pension entitlements at taxpayers' expense. Will taxpayers be reimbursed for any undeserved golden handshakes?

More bad news includes a pending lawsuit against the province and others related to online e-gaming with potential liability in the millions of dollars. Reports abound about other inappropriate activity including property acquisitions and friendly financing. Is what we have seen documented so far only the tip of the iceberg?

P.E.I. needs to demonstrate that these matters have been taken seriously and that they were not simply papered over with rewritten policies, internal reviews, and out of sequence Auditor General reports. Many in government are, or were, at the centre of what has been going on and it should be obvious that government cannot and should not investigate itself. For example, with all due respect for the Auditor General, she is a part of the government and does not have the authority to carry out a full investigation.

An independent, competent, properly staffed and financed, judicial inquiry is necessary. The inquiry should have a very broad mandate under the Public Inquiries Act including authority to subpoena witnesses and to recommend, where appropriate, criminal investigations by the RCMP or other sanctions, as well as methods for improving our system of governance into the future. While such an inquiry will certainly cost money, what price would Islanders put on our reputation?

Who will take political leadership? Is everyone in a position to do something - Liberal or Conservative - compromised? The Liberal reluctance to investigate themselves, even with a new leader who feels he must state he doesn't do business this way, is understandable, if not forgivable. The silence of the Conservatives is in some ways, even more disturbing.

So what may be done by concerned Islanders? Demand a judicial inquiry.

- Call, email or write our Premier, 902-368-4400, ";"

- Call, email or write our Leader of the Opposition Party, 902-368-4360 "";

- Demand a commitment from all candidates who come to your door looking for support in the upcoming election.

Islanders have, until recently, seen a slow decline in traditional political patronage by successive governments. What appears to be happening now is much different. Obvious conflicts and blatant self-interest have apparently become the order of the day. It seems the disclosures of the past few months have confirmed that Islanders have been experiencing government of the few, by the few and for the few. Who now represents the interests of the general public?

One of the earliest lessons we teach our kids is that there are consequences, not rewards, for bad behaviour. That seems to be what's missing here, and it will remain so until our collective indifference and inaction as Islanders is no longer the friend of bad behaviour by the few.

Wayne Hooper of Uigg is a volunteer board member for the Canada Business Development Centre (CBDC). He is a former Director General Operations at ACOA P.E.I. & Tourism; and former P.E.I. Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture

The quote from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets comes to mind-- "Ginny!" said Mr. Weasley, flabbergasted. "Haven't I taught you anything? What I have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain?"

-- when I saw the ad in today's Guardian page A3 for a website called "Where Did Your Money Go?"

It's critical of the "Ghiz-MacLauchlan government" on e-gaming and other "ventures", with spiffy website design (that of us clunky small non-profits would be jealous of). But I have no idea who is "its brain".

News from EcoJustice that the province of Ontario is about to be the first jurisdiction to restrict the use and sale of bee-killing pesticides "neonics"). You may remember EcoJustice urged citizens to comment to the Ontario government about this issue during the public consultation period. EcoJustice is further recommending some improvements, too.

More details:

It's good that Ontario encouraged public consultations, that EcoJustice made it straightforward for people to comment, that enough people commented, and that Ontario appears to be listening.

Events tonight, Wednesday, March 25th:

"Pints with Politicians", with Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker and candidates, 5:30PM, The Wave (in the Student Union building, CARI side of campus), UPEI.

Cornwall and Area Watershed Group AGM, 6-8PM, Cornwall Town Hall, Guest speakers are Todd Dupuis (Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment) and Don Jardine, UPEI Climate Lab. All welcome.

The Global Chorus essay today is by Klaus Bosselmann, who teaches law at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

more about him from:

"Klaus Bosselmann has been teaching in the areas of public international law, European law, constitutional law, jurisprudence and comparative and international environmental law. His research focus is on the conceptual and international dimensions of environmental law and governance. He is particularly interested in sustainability ethics with respect to climate change, biodiversity, justice, human rights, legislation, democracy and international law.


He writes:

Sustainability means living within planetary boundaries. To survive, everything we plan and do has to be mindful of this imperative of natural law. Sustainability must therefore inform all our policies, laws and institutions. If liberty, equality

and justice are the pillars of modern civilization, sustainability provides their foundation and roof – picture a Greek temple. Sustainability is missing in our current civilizational model. But for decision-makers--- to even ignore it now, i.e., amidst

dangerous climate change, spells ecocide and is an insult to human intelligence.

Thankfully, history has shown that people will not tolerate ignorance for too long. More and more citizens live the truth now. They will prevail, first for themselves, then amongst their peers and communities and eventually across countries and the entire world.

This is my belief. It is the belief in the human spirit. -- Klaus Bosselmann

March 24, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Storm-days bring their own news, lots of busy details or very sad events. Tucked in yesterday morning on CBC Island Morning was a short but thoughtful piece with Ian Petrie, former CBC Radio journalist, speaking on behalf of Vision PEI.

here is the on-line story from:

Vision PEI Aims to Hold Politicians to Account - CBC Island Morning and CBC PEI website

Published Monday, March 23rd, 2015, on CBC's website

A discussion around a kitchen table six months ago has led to a new political movement on P.E.I. with more than 100 members that aims to create change in a non-partisan way. Vision PEI has set a mission to ask politicians hard questions, rather than just complaining. "What we will try to do is to give people our sense of the kinds of questions that need to be asked," said Vision PEI spokesman and retired CBC journalist Ian Petrie.

"Why can't we have an education system that's the best in the country? Why can't we have pesticide regulations that are the best in the country? There's no reason we can't do that. Again, these are not easily solved questions, but we need to ask the right questions and start demanding that better things happen."

Petrie said Vision PEI doesn't plan to just concentrate its efforts during the upcoming election. The group expects to be around for years.

More here:

There are many events this week-- here are just a few environmental, political, or cultural ones (the last often related to the Bonshaw area or other endeavors of people involved in the Plan B opposition :-)

Today, Tuesday, March 24th:

NDP PEI Policy Statement, 1PM, Silver Thread Club, 75 Main Street, Souris. All welcome.


NDP District 16 Cornwall-Meadowbank, and NDP District 18 Rustico-Emerald Nomination Meeting, 6:30PM, Cornwall Town Hall (next to APM Centre, 39 Lowther Drive in Cornwall).

from their press release:

"Please join Mike Redmond, Leader of the New Democratic Party of PEI, Jennifer Coughlin, the sole candidate, to date, seeking the NDP nomination in District 16, Leah-Jane Hayward, the sole candidate, to date, seeking the NDP nomination in District 18, and various other New Democrats as we nominate our ninth, and tenth candidate for the upcoming provincial election."

(Today is also the NDP leader's birthday, according to Facebook.)

Wednesday, March 25th:

"Pints with Politicians", with Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker and candidates, 5:30PM, The Wave (in the Student Union building), UPEI.

Cornwall and Area Watershed Group AGM, 6-8PM, Cornwall Town Hall, Guest speakers are Todd Dupuis (Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment) and Don Jardine, UPEI Climate Lab. All welcome.

Thursday, March 26th:

Movie: "Dirt! The Movie: A Story with Heart and Soil", 7PM, PEI Farm Centre, Admission by donation.


Presented by the PEI Food Security Network, "DIRT! The Movie tells the story of Earth’s most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility. This insightful and timely film tells the story of the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet."

Film and Panel Discussion: Passive Houses/Energy Efficiency, 7-9PM, AVC Lecture Theatre A, UPEI.

Friday, March 27th:

Young at Heart, Theatre, public performance, "Blessed Assurance: The Story and Songs of Fanny Crosby". 7PM, St. Paul's Church, corner of Grafton and Church Street, Charlottetown. Admission $20/$15. This year's play is on a Support the Young at Heart Theatre, which brings fine musical theatre to seniors homes and manors throughout P.E.I. each spring. This production is performed by Pamela Campbell and Nancy Beck and is about Fanny Crosby, one of the most famous hymn writers known.

Saturday, March 28th:

Celebrating Mitch MacKinnon, a friend of Stop Plan B, 7PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road, all welcome. Mitch died too young and we will gather to share stories. Please bring something for the refreshment table.

Sunday, March 29th:

Bonshaw Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall at TCH and Green Road, Bonshaw. Various entertainers and homemade lunch. Admission by donation and proceeds to the Bonshaw Hall Co-operative.

"John Sylvester Meets Iceland" Photos (Vinland Society presentation), 7:30PM, BIS Hall (Irish Cultural Centre), Admission by free-will donation.

More details and a glimpse of the stunning photos:

This isn't until September, but it sounds interesting:

Wednesday, September 16 to Friday, September, Conference: "Building Community Resilience".

"The Steering Committee for the 10th North Atlantic Forum is pleased to announce that this year’s conference, “Building Community Resilience: Innovation, Culture, and Governance in Place,” will be held from September 16 to 19, 2015 in Summerside, PEI. The North Atlantic Forum is a network of researchers, policy-makers, and development practitioners focused on best practices in social and economic development and governance. We believe in and celebrate the power of small, and the innovations that come out of unlikely places. The conference is hosted by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies in partnership with the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF).

More event details on the Citizens' Alliance website:

Global Chorus today, by poet, actor, writer Laurence Overmire, has one message -- respect the Golden Rule:

"We are interconnected and interdependent upon one another for our well-being. This truth has been expressed over and over again by scientists, poets, artists, musicians, philosophers and every great spiritual teacher. It is what Martin Luther King Jr. called 'the interrelated structure of reality.' It’s what the Golden Rule is all about."--Laurence Overmire

March 23, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some Citizens' Alliance News to Bellaliant/Sympatico addresses appear to have bounced back to me, so if you haven't gotten a CANews daily, you can check the archives on our website

From the British medical journal The Lancet, yesterday:

Round-up -- glyphosate -- is a probable carcinogen to humans, from World Health Organization meeting. Along with further condemnation of other pesticides.

It also confirms serious concerns about parathion, malathion, tetrachlorvinphos, and diazinon.

And in today's Guardian, from two Island champions:

screenshot from today, Monday, March 23rd, 2015,The Guardian, page A6

Today's Global Chorus is by Roshini Thinakaran, an American photojournalist who describes how one of her first encounters of photographing a young woman in Iraq, and despite the devastation and turmoil around her, showing hope.

"I am not sure if hope is something we are born with or are taught. Sometimes I think it is a choice." -- Roshini Thinakaran

March 22, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Catherine O'Brien, chair of Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, wrote in yesterday's Guardian:

Time to Review Own Water Use - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

March 22 is United Nations World Water Day. We are facing real crises globally, with lack of healthy, accessible water in many countries. There are also problems nationally and here in our own province.

No resource on earth is more precious - or more endangered - than water. Across Canada there are shortages of safe, potable water. We hear of boil water orders, rivers becoming contaminated and wells running dry.

Canada has seven per cent of the world’s renewable freshwater. Should we protect it?

P.E.I. has one aquifer. We have seen years of contamination, through heavy nitrate use and pesticides. We have seen over- extraction of water by municipalities, and our infrastructure has not been designed to withstand the effects of climate change.

We should have a right to clean water, clean air and clean soil to grow our food, but we do not have these rights legislated in Canada.

Visit and sign a petition asking our local governments to acknowledge our right to clean water, air and soil.As we head to provincial elections, please ask the candidates if they support a comprehensive Water Act on P.E.I. that will eliminate fish kills, anoxic events, and will contain robust legislation to protect P.E.I. water for the future.

On World Water Day, take the time to think about your own water use. How much water do you use to: wash clothes and dishes, shower and bathe, flush the toilet? For more information on how to reduce water consumption, visit the Sierra Club website (

Think globally and act locally, decrease your own use of water, and ask your government to support a Water Act that protects P.E.I. water.

Catherine O’Brien,

Chair of The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water


World Water Day background

As always, the Council of Canadians hits the balance of local and global:

They describe the Harper government's gutting of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in 2012, and are raising awareness of unprotected waterways. They suggest an easy but powerful action: to take a photo of a river or lake you love, for their gallery (or send one you have). Or take a photo by yourself or with others by that river, holding a sign calling for its protection, and tweet or e-mail it to your Member of Parliament (details on the link).

Friday, VisionPEI on posted this on their Facebook site, in relation to a term that came up in comments made by former Clerk of the Executive Council and now Graphic columnist Allan Rankin (bold is mine):

Here's an interesting, insightful piece from a friend of Vision PEI

Family Compact

It is perhaps an oversimplification to place all the blame for Prince Edward Island’s governance issues upon party politics, or even most “party insiders”. Our provincial challenges are more historical in nature.

To any “outsider” looking in, I would be considered a “party insider”. I am a visible supporter of my party who has served on my party’s provincial council. I attend party events, I contribute financially to the party and its candidates, and I’m friendly with elected members both past and present.

“Outsiders” would expect me to have an inside track with government when my party has been in power. In reality, my ability or opportunity to directly advance my personal wealth, opinions or agenda has been quite limited. I am not, you see, a member of "The Club", and most “party insiders” are like me.

In fact, power is concentrated today in PEI in the same place it has been concentrated dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries: within the Family Compact. Our elite patricians and matricians – most from Charlottetown but not exclusively – are still the ones who manipulate, direct and dictate the actions of Island governments. They are our province’s “one percenters”.

The Family Compact are PEI’s gatekeepers and decision-makers, who permeate the highest levels of the province’s professions and our public service. Members often control PEI’s private sector employers, where employee wages and salaries tend to stay low with the dual result of maximizing personal profits and ensuring a submissive workforce. Under both Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments, the more opportunistic members of the Family Compact have treated the Provincial Treasury like their own bank account. This isn’t a grand conspiracy: it’s just the way things have always been here.

The Family Compact is xenophobic – not in a racial way, but in an exclusionary sense. One cannot simply join the club. Gaining access and acceptance happens, but it might take a marriage or a few generations. The Family Compact is multi-generational. Ties that bind the Compact’s members may first be formed on playgrounds or sports teams, before continuing up through our educational/post-secondary systems and into the workforce.

Historically, members of the Family Compact were our legislators, but with the gradual devolution of an Island MLA’s influence, this is no longer the case. Today, the Family Compact is focused on the Executive branch. This is more efficient and discrete. Control of the Executive assures control of government, and efforts to lobby the Executive can almost always take place behind closed doors.

The Family Compact’s ways of governing and doing business in PEI have driven away many newcomers and opportunities from our province, along with far more Islanders than one might expect. So who can break the Family Compact’s stranglehold? Islanders can, through greater engagement in political life and in public discourse.

Only a small minority of “party insiders” are members of the Family Compact. Thousands of hard-working, sincere and honest Islanders are already active participants in our political parties and processes. The members of Island political parties include farmers and fishermen, physicians and financiers, educators and those whose formal education ended in grade school. Whether they are a lawyer or a layperson, and whatever their political party of choice, any Islander who will put our society above self has a part to play in shaping the PEI of tomorrow.

In the coming election campaign, tell your would-be MLAs what truly matters to you, and listen to whether they can express a vision to deliver it to our province. If they cannot, they haven’t earned your support. If none of your candidates make the grade, you should consider putting your own name forward for elected office sometime.

It is said a people get the government they deserve. If enough Islanders articulate and demonstrate that they deserve better government than they have received under the Family Compact, it will ultimately happen, whether that government is red or blue, orange or green, or even some other colour.


Sociologist Ken Plummer of England writes today's Global Chorus essay, a poem, with a lovely Dr. Seuss feel to it, and which coincidentally fits in with everything else today:

No Other Way

There’s no other way.

That’s what they say.

Economics must put money before people,

And medicine must put profit before health.

Education must put management before wisdom,

And religion must put war before love.

Technology must put machines before environments,

And politicians must put power before care.

We must follow the way things are done.

There’s no other way.

That’s what they say.

But what if economics valued feelings,

And medicine always pursued dignity.

If education aimed for the flourishing of humanity,

And religion wanted better worlds for all.

If technology looked out for justice,

And politicians put people first.

If we all just tried to be kind to each other?

There surely is a much better way

Than the one they preach to us every day.

--Ken Plummer

More on Ken Plummet, here:

March 21, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Event today:

Central Queens Wildlife Federation / West River Watershed Project AGM, 10AM, Riverview Community Centre, 718 Clyde River Road (Rt. 247), off the TCH in Clyde River (map here) Special topic is a "presentation on the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands."

Many parcels were acquired for the Plan B highway, and Environment Minister Janice Sherry made protection and planning of the parts not needed for the road one of the conditions for the Department of Transportation to get the Environmental Impact Assessment approval in October of 2012. The Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee drew up a general protection plan within the first year, and a small subcommittee has now produced the 34-page management plan draft, here: There is a three week period of public comment March 23rd to April 13th), according to the item on radio Thursday, and the website: As far as I know (and putting it tactfully, willing communication on the part of the subcommittee has not been exemplary), the watershed meeting today will be the only public explanation of the plans; otherwise, the draft plan could be Sunday storm reading.

Nota bene: the word "wilderness park" is not used in this document.

Egmont MP Gail Shea offered some federal money (of course, our money) to pay for twinned electricity cables under the Northumberland Stait for electricity to go in one direction or the other between New Brunswick and P.E.I., at about the same time the Green Party PEI was releasing its entire policy, including plans for a fee-and-dividend carbon system and an emphasis on renewables. Different ways of looking at the future. media stories here: Green Party policy here:


From a comment in VisionPEI on Facebook yesterday, a comment on Island-Cable-Lack-of-Vision:

Huge pre-election announcement today about the new power-cable to the Mainland...100 million$ price tag, for starters... of Vision PEI's 'talking points' calls for a movement toward energy self-sufficiency for the Island...well this ain't that...and while I might have missed something I don't recall that there was an ounce of public input...a little paternalistic perhaps...and think what $100 million would do to get us into alternative energy production...think about the jobs...ponder Jason Aspin's vision of exporting alternative energy technology (he knows a little about that)

just something to think about over the week-end...have a good one!

And the March 21st entry for the anthology Global Chorus, coincidentally, is about some of these topics, from Lester Russell Brown, an 80-year old American environmental analyst and author. It flows so well it must be printed in its entirely (with thanks for the permission for all these excerpts from editor-in-chief Todd MacLean; bold is mine.

"The challenge is, how do we get from here to there? Oystein Dahle said, 'Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the environmental truth.'

Our failure to incorporate the price of fossil fuels into the cost of climate change has led us to create an enormously costly situation for ourselves and certainly for the next generation. The trick is to get the market to tell the environmental truth.

And the way to do it is to lower income taxes and offset that with a rising carbon tax. No change in the amount of tax we pay; but initiate this reduction and of setting over the next dozen years, and in stages, so that everyone can adjust and plan accordingly.

We used to talk about saving the planet. The challenge now is to save civilization. Because if the number of failing states in the world keeps increasing, civilization itself will, at some point, begin to unravel. This is our challenge: saving civilization is not a spectator sport. It’s going to require the participation of every one of us. And we’re in a situation now where every day counts. We’re in a race between tipping points – natural tipping points and political tipping points. Each of us must get involved politically, work on important issues and help to restructure the economy. Whether it’s the energy economy, or the materials economy or the comprehensive re-use/recycle economy – the old economic model, the fossil-fuel-based/automobile-centric/throwaway economy simply cannot take us where we want to go. It will not continue much longer, because it is self-destructing. he challenge is to replace it with a renewable-energy-powered

economy, one that has a much more diversified transport system, and one that reuses and recycles everything.

This is our challenge. If you like challenges, this is a great time to be around." -- Lester R. Brown


The book is available at local bookstores and from on-line booksellers.

March 20, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

An event this morning:

Green Party of PEI releases its policy and has candidates announcements, 10:30AM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, upstairs in room 212. All welcome.

The GPPEI Policy (18 pages) has just been released and is under the subtitle "About the Party", and is easy to read on line. Some interesting proposals to discuss as the weeks go on.

Today's Guardian features a story on page A3 by Teresa Wright on Allan Rankin's revelations about the Provincial Nominee Program in his column in the week's Graphic newspapers. It is not on the paper's website yet (except on the direct digital version), but it describes his serious concerns about the PNP program and what he knew about it, and there is a mention that his employment ended when he started asking hard questions.


I think I may have printed this brief biography before, but to give an idea of the background on the Graphic newspapers columnist (my bold):

from the government website on June 28th, 2007, on recent appointments

Allan Rankin -- Clerk of Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet

Allan Rankin was born and grew up near Summerside, Prince Edward Island where he attended local schools. After under-graduate studies at the University of Prince Edward Island, he went on to complete a Master’s degree in History at the University of New Brunswick.

Between 1975 and 1979, he was employed by the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation. In 1980, Allan became the Prince Edward Island’s first Cultural Affairs Officer, within the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.

In 1989, Rankin was appointed Deputy Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs by the late Premier Joseph Ghiz. Between 1993 and 1996, he also served as Clerk of the Executive Council and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly in the Administration of Premier Catherine Callbeck.

In 2000, he was employed by the City of Summerside as the first Director of the Wyatt Heritage Properties. In September 2002, Rankin was appointed Policy Advisor to Prince Edward Island Senator Hon. Elizabeth Hubley.

So it would be safe to say he knows government and the working of the Legislature.

an excerpt from this week's Graphic column, with thanks to Vision PEI for posting it on their Facebook page:

A Reckless Government Gambles and Loses - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin

The Internet gambling misadventures chronicled by The Globe and Mail newspaper, and first reported by The Eastern Graphic two years ago, have disappointed and angered Islanders, and further weakened their trust in the politicians who serve them.

I overheard one especially insightful fellow at the Hunter River Irving sum it up this way.

“That bunch in town would steal the cushions right off the couch.”

This smallest of provinces does appear to be governed by a cabal, people ready to follow every bone headed, illusive dream, prepared to pursue every self-interested scheme with public money, while the rest of us bear the national disgrace and ridicule, and sink further into debt.

Historically, we once knew them as the Family Compact, that “band within this land” folk poet Larry Gorman sang about more than a century ago.

Not much has changed.

In the wake of PNP, the e-gambling fiasco contributes to the image other Canadians must have of Prince Edward Island as kind of playschool masquerading as a province, where competing, self-interested political clubs take turns running things.

Premier MacLauchlan says it’s not the way he does business. I hope not. The Business School at UPEI certainly doesn’t teach those ethics. Nevertheless, this is the political culture our new Premier has inherited, and he needs to make immediate and meaningful changes to restore the faith of Islanders in government.

Forgive me, but referring the Internet gambling file to the Auditor General is a political manoeuvre intended to have the whole matter disappear until after the coming election.

It’s now abundantly clear little was learned as a result of PNP.

The outgoing premier trumpeted the success of that program until the last days of his administration, claiming the millions invested in small business across the Island offset the negative effects of a mini economic recession experienced elsewhere.

There might be a grain of truth in this claim, however the PNP was administered preferentially and unfairly, and in my opinion the Public Inquiries Act remains the only way to ever get to the bottom of it all.

Unless you were hooked up by one of a small group of designated agents, or approached by a well-connected lawyer or accountant, the PNP remained a mystery and out of reach for most Island businesses. All government run programs are expected to meet a basic threshold of openness and access, but PNP operated in the shadows, its benefits flowing only to those on a select and much guarded list.

When I was the Clerk of Executive Council during that time, and responsible for administering the Executive Council Act and Public Departments Act on behalf of the premier, even I was kept in the dark. One minister reportedly warned an employee, “whatever you do, don’t let the clerk see the list.”

Presumably I was regarded as too vigilant of a gatekeeper, too unwashed in the ways of business.

I did suspect wrongdoing.

When the Liberal government took office in 2007, there were already glaring signs of abuse by the other major political club, the one waving the blue standard. Several politicians and senior officials had received PNP, and investment units were allocated to local businesses that didn’t in fact exist, such as a manufacturer of handmade wooden boats in Cherry Hill. No boats. Money in the bank.

With the PNP drawing to a close in 2008, efforts ramped up to allocate as many units of investment as possible because the gravy train would soon pull out from the station. Over the last few frenzied months of PNP, eligibility and other policies were ignored in the race to match Asian investors with carefully-chosen Island businesses.

It was a boon to the economy, but also to the governing political party. When I was told by a colleague that PNP units were being peddled as an incentive for the purchase of Liberal fundraising tickets, my concern over PNP deepened.

The whole article is here:


And from PEI's Public Inquiries Act, which a former clerk of the Legislature would likely know:

Chapter P-31


1. The Lieutenant Governor in Council may cause inquiry to be made into and concerning any matter connected with the good government of this province, or the conduct of any part of the public business thereof <snip>

Global Chorus's essay is fantastic today -- very timely as political parties prepare for the start of a season. It is from Guy Dauncey, who "is a speaker, author, and organizer who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate that vision into action." That sounds wonderful! More about him and his work at: (Bold is mine, but the whole essay is great.)


Our ancestors built a global economy based on “ME,” with private property, private wealth and private tax evasion. Around the world, communities are building new co-operative economies based on “WE,” with new ways of banking and new ways of doing business in socially responsible ways that are often more successful than their counterparts in the “ME” economy. We can upgrade our democracies to make them more proportional, removing corruption and corporate cronyism. We can upgrade the global economy, eliminating tax havens and turning foul trade into fair. All these things are possible. We just need to believe, and commit our lives to being part of a green, sustainable future. We have the intelligence. We have the skills. We just need the hope – and the determination. --Guy Dauncey

March 19, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There are a few events on-going and coming up (if you can get out to them):

Two art shows:

Until March 28th, "Dispossessed but Defiant", photo exhibition on human rights for indigenous people, Arts Guild, corner of Richmond and Queen Streets, Charlottetown. "Dispossessed but Defiant is an international photo exhibition made up of over 100 photos on 45 panels. The exhibition depicts different aspects of indigenous peoples’ experiences of dispossession, and their struggles to resist these processes. Spanning almost 150 years, the photos of the exhibition capture the experiences of three indigenous groups: Canada’s Indigenous peoples, Palestinians and Black South Africans.Source: " Curated by Jim and Myrna Wicks.

Tuesdays-Fridays 12-5PM, Fridays 7:30-9:30PM. Admission by donation

Until March 31st, "Water", paintings on aquatic environments, Eptek Centre, Summerside.

"Turn your thoughts from snow to water with Robert Milner’s new exhibition at Eptek Centre. The north end of the lobby has been transformed from a history of maps to the future of wetlands and waterways.

Robert Milner has worked in several mediums over the years and is well-known for his paintings of animals. Milner has changed his focus for this exhibition to our aquatic environment in order to draw attention to our precious resource - water. The exhibition features landscapes that highlight rivers and wetlands in acrylic or watercolour as well as several paintings of waterfowl and shorebirds. Most have not been previously shown on the Island. 'Water' remains on exhibit at Eptek Centre until March 31."

Watershed Meetings:

Saturday, March 21st, 10AM, Central Queens Wildlife Federation/West River Watershed AGM, Riverview Community Centre, Clyde River. Megan Harris, currently watershed coordinator, will give an update on the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee management plan. This is the first information to come out to the public regarding the management plan that I know of (the public was told the plan would be available for comment at some point before implementation, which I am told should still happen).

Wednesday, March 25th,6PM, Cornwall Area Watershed Group AGM. More details later.

Saturday, April 4th, 9AM-2PM, Watershed Alliance AGM, Hunter River. They want to have an idea of numbers, so they ask people to "register" first; write

The public is welcome at all watershed AGMs.


A related announcement and congratulations to Megan Harris, of the Central Queens Wildlife Federation/West River Watershed coordinator, for being named the new executive director of Island Nature Trust, replacing the retiring Jackie Waddell. Best Wishes!!

Today's Global Chorus essay is by Australian pediatrician and anti-nuclear advocate Helen Caldicott, who started the Physicians for Social Responsibility.

"We are at a critical point in the Earth’s evolution as the human species wreaks havoc upon Nature and upon itself. I sometimes wonder whether we are an evolutionary aberrant not meant to survive long because of our overdeveloped neocortex and underdeveloped sense of morality and responsibility.


Most politicians are scientifically and medically ignorant. In our democracies it is our responsibility to educate them and insist they legislate for life and not for short-term or long-term death. They are our representatives and we are their leaders.

It is time we roused ourselves from our couches and computer-styled indolence, to thoroughly educate ourselves on these issues and put our souls and bodies on the line to use our wonderful democracies to save the earthly magic of possibly the only life in the universe." --Helen Caldicott

And a letter to the editor: Opinion>

Everything Comes in Threes - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor

Published on March 16, 2015

Some say everything comes in threes — the three blind mice, Three Musketeers, three coins in the fountain and so on. How about three coincidences or three conflicts of interest?

Lets start with Robert Ghiz. Here is a young man following a successful political career when he suddenly resigns. Coincidence or conflict?

Next we have Wes Sheridan, who, at one point, considered running for the leadership of the party, then like Ghiz, suddenly resigns. Conflict or coincidence?

Finally we have Neil Robinson, the province’s conflict of interest commissioner. He just resigned recently. However, he claims to be innocent of any wrongdoing. Apparently his reason for resigning was that the government had lost confidence in him. I can’t imagine why??? Could it be a coincidence that he invested $15,000 in the very company now under investigation?

E-gaming has come to life and to the attention of the public via the Globe & Mail report. A strange coincidence indeed that three people named in this underhanded scheme designed to circumvent Canadian laws are no longer around.

This is more than coincidence — it was a huge and illegal gamble to get rich quick using taxpayers’ money.

Finally, is it a coincidence and reasonable the three get to resign without consequences????

F. Ben Rodgers, Abram Village

Marrch 18, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Premier's economic forum may go ahead at 9:30 AM at Murchison Place by Pius X church. The best place to check if it has been postponed again is at his twitter feed here (on the right side of the page, scrolling down a bit):

When it happens, it will be shown on-line here:

Speaking of the economic future of Prince Edward Island, that brings me to the Vision PEI Initiative. Many of us have been worried about how to ensure the environmental -- and cultural -- sustainability on our beloved Island. Some people came together last year (well before Robert Ghiz resigned) and thought about formulating their ideas. First came the portrait of what they hope the Island could achieve, the (first drafts of the) Kitchen Table Manifesto. They started sharing it with more people, and I heard about it.

I sent the talking points last week, and at the end of this post I have copied and pasted the actual document. I have also attached it (it is a small "rich text format"). This is just individuals supporting this -- I am sharing it on behalf of myself (not the Citizens' Alliance).

It's a beautiful read; and now the real work begins: fleshing this document out. And I believe all voices are welcome (even those writing negative columns in The Guardian).

Some communications (because it is fairly straightforward to post things, as is the case with CassandraPEI) are on Facebook at, but if you are interested in becoming more involved in the discussion, the contact e-mails are at the end of the document.

In Fall 2014, the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. had its first annual general meeting, and invited writer and musician Todd MacLean to be the guest speaker. Todd is editor-in-chief of the anthology Global Chorus: 365 Voices for the Future of the Planet, and in late December I thought to highlight a bit from each day's essay in 2015. Besides sharing them with you, another reason was to remind me to go through the book! (It's been an easy commitment.) Most essays have been encouraging and cheerful; today's essay, by Nigeria activist and environmentalist Odey Oyama is more a of rebuke to countries which haven't signed the Kyoto Agreement on cutting greenhouse gasses, and to those that think only the developing countries should have to cut emissions.

"In my view, therefore, humanity can only move beyond the present state of the environment if people develop the consciousness to reduce and control their large footprints rather than continue to depend on other people in other regions of the world to ameliorate the damage they themselves are causing in the environment through their selfish actions in industrialization and energy production." -- Odey Oyama

Vision PEI - (a kitchen table manifesto)

This is an appeal to thoughtful and caring Islanders who are interested in being part of a movement to get our wheels out of the old ruts and to imagine what is possible.

Imagine what it will be like if we continue on our current path in this province; a path where our competitive advantages are being compromised. The certain results: an erosion of the confidence needed to thrive; unprofitable farming and fishing operations; environmental degradation that compromises the health of Islanders and the wellbeing of the eco-system; the ongoing exodus of young persons and young families in droves; an exploding provincial debt; and eventually cynicism and despair. These and other issues will not change without a shared vision and wise choices. Do we choose to continue in complaint mode for another ten years? Twenty years? Fifty years? Or do we choose to create something exceptional?

Most Islanders recognize we are in crisis management, and that further tinkering with the present system is not enough. We require a transformative vision.

Imagine if you will, an Island of Excellence: a pristine jewel in the Gulf of St. Lawrence where our communities are characterized by confidence and vibrancy, and the quality of our products and services is recognised as the finest in North America, or perhaps the world. Is it possible we might achieve such a lofty status? Yes, but only if we envisage it, and are unafraid of being exceptional.

If a vision of what is possible is to be more than a ‘pipe dream’ it needs to be grounded in something solid. In this case the firm underpinning is the extraordinary pride that indwells most Islanders. From tip to tip we believe passionately that this Island is a wonderful place, and care deeply about it. That is our primary resource. If that ‘pride of place’ is combined with innovative thinking and bold action it will draw forth the best in all of us.

This vision of excellence might also be called a ‘vision of transcendence’ for it recognizes the necessity of framing our intent in a manner that transcends narrow partisan objectives. When loyalty to party is placed above concern for the well-being of the entire Island it is a formula for mediocrity and wasted opportunity. The creators of this document are not motivated by loyalty to any political party, but by their love of the Island, and by the conviction that we have everything required to excel as a community.

We already have some impressive success stories upon which to build. Historically, there was a time when the Island’s silver fox industry was the world leader, and a time when the Island was preeminent in the seed potato industry. And before that there was a period when Island shipbuilders were constructing more vessels per capita than any other place on the planet. We know what it is to do things exceptionally well, and need to consciously reaffirm that tradition.

Presently we can lay claim to the best oysters and blue mussels on the globe; an incredible tuna fishery; the unsurpassed beauty of our pastoral landscape; an internationally renowned author, L.M. Montgomery, who presents PEI as a place of exquisite charm and beauty; a vibrant arts scene that is bubbling up like a powerful underground spring; a growing reputation as a place of culinary excellence; a burgeoning expertise in the fields of bioscience, aerospace and marine technologies; and, last but not least, that pride of place that motivates us to say, “We can excel.”

Consider the enormous head start these products, services and circumstances can give us in the marketplace. Imagine building on our natural advantages, and being able over time also to lay claim to the best beef, pork, lamb, lobster, potatoes and other farm and fish products. And imagine being a place where manufacturers of all kinds of goods, from the most traditional to the most advanced, will be eager to be associated with the PEI label because they know it is recognized world-wide for its high quality.

If we have the will for it we could also claim and demonstrate that our products come from an island with the most progressive environmental laws in North America. This is a key element in differentiating ourselves from other jurisdictions, and why should we aim at anything less? These enlightened environmental standards will need to be crafted with care and common sense, but in the long run it is clearly in our best interests to ensure that our practices never again kill our fish or pollute our air, soil and water. This is an achievable goal. It will add value to everything we do, and elevate the reputation of the Island in the minds of millions world-wide.

Imagine the advantages a reputation for superb quality would give to our producers and service providers. No longer would we be trying and failing to compete in a global marketplace. No longer would our inherent disadvantages result in break-even farming and fishing, at best. How can we expect our beef products to compete directly with Texas range beef requiring no support infrastructure? How can we expect to maximise our oyster profitability when our product receives the same price as the untold millions of inferior, wild Carolina oysters harvested with large equipment? We can’t. And yet that is precisely the dilemma the whole Island economy is facing.

For us it’s not a matter of ‘go big or go home’. That option is simply not plausible for this Island, and the attempt to move in that direction has been disastrous. For us it is a matter of ‘be excellent or go under’, and in that regard being a small Island, where native pride is so strong, is not a liability but an advantage. But that advantage is squandered when we feel we have to be like everyone else, and become imitators rather than innovators.

Imagine if our products were the most sought after in North America, and if wholesalers and consumers were prepared to pay us a premium for excellence. That is the vision of excellence required of us. Now, imagine if we were to take that commitment further and apply it to:

The Economy. Imagine an economy that is recognized as the standard to which others aspire; where companies and individuals want to locate here to be associated with the new environmental consciousness of the marketplace; and where people are drawn in order to raise their families and live in a safe, secure and healthy environment. This is a new and growing global trend for an educated and aware segment of society, and being on the cutting edge of that trend is an achievable goal.

Now, imagine an economic vision that does not pit city against country, but where urban and rural development are recognized as being entirely complementary; where the vitality of the one is nourished by the vitality of the other.

Politics and Governance: Prince Edward Islanders generally take for granted one of our most extraordinary resources: the gift of jurisdiction. As one of the ten provinces of Canada, we have the same capacity for local autonomy as Ontario and Quebec. No other community our size in North America has close to the same degree of jurisdictional muscle. This provides us with a unique opportunity for creative public policy -- and to set our own very high environmental and social standards. But the muscle must be exercised or it will atrophy.

Imagine the satisfaction of creating a model of governance that elects people based on their ideas and vision; a government that is right-sized for our population and Provincial status; and a government that plans long term.

Excellence is a concept already shared by countless Islanders; however, what is deeply frustrating is that in our public affairs the vision of excellence has, over decades, gone missing. If thoughtful Islanders are not to become cynical, and detached from the political process, there must be change; i.e. a legislature which is more representative of the rich variety of Island opinion. This too is an achievable goal. Further, it should be noted that the default behaviour of Islanders in the voting booth – voting by rote either Liberal or Conservative – is, in effect, a form of detachment from a more creative political process. In a word, it is time to move beyond old political habits.

Education: Prince Edward Island has everything we need to create one of the most enlightened and vibrant school systems anywhere. The human and financial resources are sufficient. Our size is also in our favour. It allows us to be more adaptive and dextrous, but we have squandered that advantage by being so imitative. We could be world leaders in education, but not so long as we believe our fate is merely to copy what is done someplace else.

Health: Everyone understands our current approach to health care cannot be sustained. Innovative, high quality health care is critical, but we cannot ‘treat’ our way to a healthy society. Fortunately, a wealth of evidence shows that the health of a people (as measured by how long they live, for example) stems more from such factors as quality in child care, education and work, and reducing the income gap, than it does from medical care. Paying attention to these factors – many of which are central to our vision – represents a serious approach to prevention, and is the only realistic way to secure the health of Islanders over the long term.

Tourism: imagine how alluring it will be for visitors to encounter a place that stands out from the crowd because of its reputation for uniqueness and creativity in every aspect of the society; and imagine a time when it will not be necessary to ‘brand’ ourselves with a trumped up slogan because the name and reputation of the Island will be brand enough. Can you imagine that?

Jobs: Imagine an Island where our best and brightest young people are raised in an environment that challenges their creativity and leadership qualities; an environment where they are able to thrive, earn good wages and raise their families; an environment where the rising tide of prosperity is designed to lift up the many and not just the few; and an environment where seasonal occupation, with its corrosive dependency on EI, welfare, and patronage is greatly reduced. This too is an achievable goal.

Population: Imagine an island with such a reputation for excellence and innovation that people, young and old, will want to relocate (or retire) here. There is a huge emerging demographic of individuals looking for an alternative to mainstream Western culture that will be drawn here. To be the place they are looking for is an achievable goal, if we can imagine it.

While our smallness can be an advantage, we ignore at our peril the fact that our size also makes us extremely vulnerable to the designs of individuals and entities of great power and wealth. It is necessary, therefore, to use our gift of jurisdiction to block the ambitions of those who are capable of altering the nature of our community in ways that are not in the best long-term interests of most Islanders. In this regard our land ownership and land use regulations are presently outdated, requiring the retooling necessary to cope with current challenges. Only thirty-two municipalities, making up 10% of the Island’s land area, have land use plans. Decisions on the remaining 90% are made by provincial public servants who have absolutely no stake in outcomes and no accountability.

This is not a vision of isolationism or separateness. The pursuit of excellence on this Island necessitates the seeking out of mutually beneficial relationships with peoples the world over.

Further, the society envisaged in this document will promote policies, and ways of doing things, that are not adversarial, but have the effect of building a sense of oneness and respect among and between Islanders and others, whatever their differences. This ethic will also inform and inspire the helping services. Those who are marginalized, for whatever reasons, will be invited to walk alongside others to find solutions that improve everyone’s circumstances.

An ‘Island of excellence’ will require time, perhaps decades, to achieve. A goal of this magnitude requires a fundamental mind-shift -- a new way of thinking and acting. It requires us to steer away from dependency and imitation; to forge our own path; and to view our smallness and insularity, not as liabilities, but as opportunities, and the very source of our inspiration.

It begins with imagination and confidence. If Islanders can draw those from within themselves the vision of excellence will be achieved.*****

Note: If you are willing to be a part of this process of re-visioning, and would like to be in touch with questions or comments feel free to contact either:

Dale Small or

Gerry Hopkirk or

David Weale

March 17, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A screenshot from The Guardian (UK)'s website:


The news, the big global news, is that The Guardian (the other one, the big global one based in Britain) has started a campaign to urge fossil fuel divestment. There are several links overflowing with content:

This link contains a snappy two-plus minute video from their reporters about how important this is. The logo is a hexagon, presumably to represent a six-sided hydrocarbon molecule -- in the ground.

A major part of this initiative, besides stories on climate change, is actively to encourage us to "Keep It in the Ground"; one way is by urging two of the world's biggest charitable money groups to get out of fossil fuel support (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust); it could start a movement.

from Phil Aroneanu of

"In a watershed moment for the growing divestment movement, The Guardian is setting its sights on the contradictory fossil fuel investments of two of the largest philanthropic health and development organizations: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation here in North America and the U.K.'s Wellcome Trust. Both are heavily invested in the industry wreaking havoc on our climate, a fact that’s at odds with their missions to create a better world."

There is a petition you can sign, in the above link.


In the following podcast, The Guardian's the editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, explains meeting Bill McKibbon of, and their conversation moving him to make climate change "The biggest story in the world" and make a real difference before he retires later this year. He discusses how to engage readers in an issue that makes us want to duck our heads and stop listening. Here is the 16 minute podcast (it incorporates some of the audio from the video and expands on it):


"Don't look away now, the climate crisis needs you" is the title of this excerpt from The Guardian from a couple of days ago, an excerpt from Naomi Klein's very powerful book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate:

It is a long piece, but very worth the time reading it, if you haven't read the book (which the public library has).

"If enough of us decide that climate change is a crisis worthy of the Marshall Plan levels of response, then it will become one."-- Naomi Klein

Speaking of capitalism, from the Premier's Liberal leader website (

Update: Economic Forum is now postponed until Wednesday. Murchison Centre, 9:30am-12:30pm. Everyone is invited. See you there!

And a hopeful note from Jean Kilbourne, author and feminist activist, on how she is inspired by young people:

"In one of her most famous poems, Emily Dickinson describes hope as 'the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.' I believe we can count on our young people to protect this precious feathered thing from extinction." -Jean Kilbourne, March 17 Global Chorus contributor

March 16, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Yesterday, in summarizing the forum on proportional representation, I inadvertently attributed to Marie Burge the story of people getting pamphlets at a church urging them to vote "no" in the plebiscite on PR in 2005. This story was related by a member of the audience. Sorry for the sloppiness.

Marie sent me her complete speaking notes from the forum, with permission to forward to anyone interested in them. Just send me a request.


The Premier's economic panel discussion scheduled for this morning has been postponed until Tuesday (at this point).

from the "WadePEI twitter feed": The Economic Forum will be postponed to the storm date of Tues, Mar 17, at 9:30am at Murchison Centre, 17 St. Pius X Avenue, Ch'town

It will also be broadcast on-line, I think.


CassandraPEI, a group of scientists and naturalists who have compiled research and made conclusions and recommendations about the state of the Island's environmental and agricultural sustainability, wrote to the Premier recently. Here is a screenshot of a recent posting, found here:


screenshot from CassandraPEI's facebook page on March 15th, 2015.

A good summary of recent weeks in an editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press from last week:


Island Liberals roll dice - Winnipeg Free Press article by Dean Jobb

Posted on Saturday, March 7th, 2015, in The Winnipeg Free Press

As Manitoba's New Democrats decide whether to keep a premier or anoint another, Canada's smallest province is in political turmoil after the graceful exit of the governing party's leader turned into a rocky reception for his successor.

Robert Ghiz set the wheels in motion last fall, with a surprise announcement that he would step down after eight years as Prince Edward Island's premier. A fast-tracked leadership race yielded a single candidate -- Greg Selinger should be so lucky -- and Wade MacLauchlan, a former university administrator, was sworn in less than two weeks ago.

That's about the only thing that has gone right for Island Liberals as they gear up for a spring election and a shot at a third term.

MacLauchlan took office promising renewal and openness and has managed to deliver neither in record time. His entire cabinet consists of former ministers in the Ghiz government. As for openness, he's being sorely tested on that front by a botched effort to transform P.E.I. into a centre for online gambling.

Details of years of negotiations to attract "e-gambling" to the Island or, failing that, to establish a high-tech financial services industry, have been surfacing in the Island media for months. But a report in The Globe and Mail last weekend, linking Liberal supporters and high-ranking government officials to the firm behind the initiative, forced the new premier to take action.

MacLauchlan asked the provincial auditor general to investigate and has promised to extend existing conflict-of-interest restrictions on cabinet ministers to their deputies and to senior political advisers.

"This is not the way I do business," he insisted in a media interview, and he'll ensure that "everything that government does will be on a highly ethical basis."

The implication this may not have been the case in the recent past does his party and government few favours. And allegations of wrongdoing still hang over an immigrant investor program operated during the Ghiz years, even though the RCMP investigated and found no basis for criminal charges.

Ghiz has left MacLauchlan some financial headaches as well. The government has been unable to sell four provincially owned, money-losing golf courses. And while the all-important tourism industry enjoyed a record year in 2014, it was a one-time boost tied to events marking the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, a major milestone on the road to Confederation.

This perfect storm of allegations, upheaval and challenges makes the once-invincible Liberals look vulnerable. MacLauchlan, the former president of the University of Prince Edward Island, is a respected figure, but his coronation catapulted him into the premier's office with no previous experience in provincial or federal politics.

He is expected to ignore the Island's fixed-election law, which mandates an October election, and go to the polls this spring.

The outcome is no longer a sure thing. The Liberals hold 23 of 27 seats in the legislature and had been riding high in the polls -- the latest tally, released this week, gives the party the support of almost 60 per cent of decided voters.

But satisfaction with the government is slipping and the number of respondents who have yet to make up their minds is growing. And the poll was conducted before the e-gambling saga became national news.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives, meanwhile, placed a distant second in the latest poll (with 26 per cent of decided voters), have been beset with internal divisions and have a new, untested leader of their own.

Former Charlottetown city councillor Rob Lantz, who won the Tory leadership race last weekend, has challenged MacLauchlan to release all documents relating to the e-gambling initiative to lift the "ethical cloud" hanging over the government.

Lantz has vowed to make the e-gambling mess an election issue. NDP Leader Mike Redmond, for his part, wants a wider judicial inquiry into an affair he says makes P.E.I. look like an "incestuous and backward province."

It is also a province where a population of just 145,000 means even a modest swing in votes can bring big changes on election night.

Dean Jobb, a journalism professor at the University of King's College in Halifax, is the author of Empire of Deception.

Today's Global Chorus essay is a poem, too hard to pluck a beautiful line or two from it, from architect turned "biotect" Michael Reynolds:

Trains gather people and take them to specific


They have opened up continents and developed

countries …

but they can only go where there is track.

If there is no track, the train does not go there.

The evolution of humanity on this planet has developed

its own track.

Belief systems, religions, economies, political regimes, laws, codes, regulations …

all have become “tracks” to our future.

These tracks have opened up continents and developed countries …

but there is a problem …

a changing planet and a growing population have

created the need to go to places

that these tracks do not go.

There is a new frontier now …

evolution beyond the tracks.

This evolution will require that every decision made

on this planet,

by any jurisdiction, anywhere,

be made with the sustenance of all the peoples and

all the animals and all the plants

in mind.

The economy, the corporations and other institutions

will be placed in their rightful

positions behind the needs of the people and the planet. At this time, an

insignificant economy will emerge. This economy

will be a result of the sustenance of

the people. Human equity will be found to be far

more valuable than monetary equity.

Life will no longer float on an economy. Life will have

its own wings.

-- Michael Reynolds

There are some great videos on YouTube about him, and I believe Todd and Savannah met him and saw an Earthship in New Mexico on their book tour late last year.

March 15, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The FairVote / LeadNow forum yesterday on proportional representation (PR) was very good, and I think snippets of it were filmed for those unable to make it.

Marie Burge of the Cooper Institute was the moderator, and provided some reflections on what happened in the 2005 plebiscite on PR. There were certain actions, both overt (government choosing to reduce polling stations, e.g.) and covert ("vote no" pamphlets apparently handed out in some communities, presumably with the blessing of the two major political parties), that swayed the incredibly low turnout of 33% of eligible voters to defeat it.

Brenda Oslawsky presented a slideshow on PR and how our elected legislature would look with PR. An excellent presentation with very telling graphs. I'll see if I can get a link to it. It was a great summary of why it's needed and the advantages, and dealt with challenges of it being too complicated or causing more elections. Retired judge Norman Carruthers was humourous and very knowledgeable, and filled in a lot of the background. Nouhad Mourad from the PEI People's Social Forum committee talked about PR engaging the younger voters and how it's shown to increase voter turnout, and increase diversity in the make-up of one's legislature.

The three provincial political party Leaders who came each had a couple of minutes to talk. Peter Bevan-Baker of the Green Party and Mike Redmond of the NDP absolutely support PR. Mike told the story that he actually voted against PR in that 2005 vote, having been swayed by the rhetoric and not knowing enough about the system chosen. I thought that was pretty gutsy to admit that. Both parties support it unequivocally, not because it will "help" their smaller party, but because it is fair -- basically, your vote should not only be counted, but your vote should count.

Rob Lantz was there as Leader of the Progressive Conservatives, and mentioned the preferential balloting system pf the leadership contest recently. While he said very little about general PR voting from a PC government, he did announce this (all errors in reporting this are my own):

If the Progressive Conservatives form government on P.E.I., any political party on P.E.I. that:

  • is a registered party;

  • runs candidates in 75% of the Districts (I think that is 20 Districts); AND

  • receives at least 5% of the popular vote, THEN:

=> That party will have representation on legislative standing committees.

A few questions come to mind (but not my mind, just in conversations afterwards with coffee from Timothy's and sweets made by Brenda and others):

What would this mean as far as a smaller party submitting to a committee -- would this be possible? Otherwise, a source of access to these committees is gone. Another issue is generally (now anyway) the perception that committees are pretty weak when it comes to the legislature as a whole acting on a committee's recommendation.


So these ideas, and what the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have to say about PR for voting, need to be explored further.

If/when an election is called, people can ask each and every candidate if he or she supports PR; and if not, why not let every vote really count?

Today's Global Chorus is by the curiously named Velcrow Ripper, a Canadian documentary maker who most recently make Occupy Love, which the Citizens' Alliance screened to the public a year ago. ("Velcrow" was a nickname from a punk rock bank he was in.)

He explores the connections between the environment and the spiritual.

"Imagine a world where the extraordinary life you are here to live is here. Imagine if you could start living your life, right now. Your fierce love shining bright.

Another world is possible, this very moment, when we choose to live it. It begins with your very next breath." -- Velcrow (Stephen) Ripper

And for some storm reading, here is an optimistic piece compiled by Bill Moyers people on his website.

It was first compiled about a year ago, but the positive nature of the piece bursts through now.

March 14, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A reminder of events today:

Green Party gathering for volunteers and supporters, 10-11:30AM, Bites Cafe (Green Party headquarters), Hampton.

More details here:

Proportional Representation panel, 2-3:30PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall (business building), Room 242. Marie Burge, Brenda Oslawsky from FairVote, Nouhad Mourad from PEI People's Social Forum, and Norman Carruthers, who was the Commissioner for the 2005 PR plebiscite on PEI.

Community Forum regarding traveling for work: Going West: How Government Policies are Forcing Workers to Leave Home, 2-4PM, O'Leary, Alice Duncan Centre.

"A community forum connecting the stories of temporary foreign workers and Islanders working out west."


Play: Captives of the Faceless Drummer, 7:30PM, UPEI Faculty Lounge, Admission by donation. This is the last performance of this drama, which includes in its cast a wonderful woman named Courtney Stockman who was involved in the Plan B opposition. The play's inspiration is the October Crisis in 1970 regarding the FLQ and a British diplomat kidnapping.

Regarding Premier MacLauchlan's announcement that PEI can be branded as "Canada's Food Island" (CBC story here: )

from Cassandra PEI on Facebook yesterday:

Attempting to brand PEI as "Canada's Food Island"? Smart. Missing the link to sustainable food production? Not so much.

With key environmental indicators headed in the wrong direction, PEI's image of "clean and green" - essential to the Food Island brand - is at risk. A house on a shaky foundation.

As always, well said.

The two city Farmers' Markets open today, and some farmers may be having small amounts of fresh greens ready to go as they gently extend the season.

Tara McFatridge writes the "Biofriendly Blog" at

with lots of tips and encouragement. In today's Global Chorus she writes:

"It isn't a matter of not being able to do the things you need or want to do, it's a matter of figuring out a more sustainable way to do them." -- Tara McFatridge

March 13, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Many communities and organizations are having some sort event in the next couple of days, to show opposition to federal Bill C-51, which will expand powers over people posing threats to the government and its priorities. There are threats to security of course; however, many of us wonder how much fossil fuel infrastructure is considered "vital interests of government" and what's the line between a protestor being "law-abiding" and having "nothing to fear", and being considered a threat.


"Money for Peace NOT Secret Police as is proposed with Bill C-51"

Friday, March 13th at 11:30am

"Meet at Gail Shea's office, 119 Kent St. near Tim Horton's. Walk to Sean Casey's office then to the Peace Vigil at the Legislature for 12:30pm.

Sponsored by Island Peace Committee and Council of Canadians PEI Chapter 902-368-7337"

and a national listing of events, many of which are Saturday in other cities:


NDP District 8, 9 and 10 Nominating Committees, 7-10PM, Hillsborough Park Community Centre.

Three NDP candidates for three nearby districts will be having their nomination conventions together. Sounds like a fun time!


Green Party PEI Volunteer Event, 10-11:30AM,

Bites Cafe, Hampton, P.E.I.

Volunteers, Candidates, & Members -- Preview of policy and platform, introduce the campaign manager and volunteer coordinators, introduce some candidates and outline plans.


Proportional representation panel, 2-3:30PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall room 242. Parking is free on the weekends, anywhere, just be mindful of ice. McDougall is the "business building" when you go into the University Avenue entrance, make a right at the circle and park down (alongside University Ave.)

It is going to be interesting event -- what PR is, what it means for PEI, what happened ten years ago, etc.

Roger Gordon Starting to Frame Library Tour, 2PM, Confederation Centre Public Library. When not researching and working toward a cosmetic pesticide ban, Roger Gordon wrote a memoir of growing up in Sheffield in the 1940s to 1960s.

Details here:


Breadalbane seed exchange, 2PM- Breadalbane Community Centre, details tomorrow.


And if you have some time in Charlottetown:

If you are interested in helping with seedy things:

(I am late in posting this, but if you are interested, do e-mail her)

from Josie Baker:

Hello Seed Savers!

Starting April 1st, Seeds of Community has the display case booked at the Charlottetown Public Library!

Last Spring we had binders of seeds available at the front desk of the library for people to help themselves to seed. This year we can use the whole display case for a few weeks, giving public access to community-sourced seed - a lovely concept as both Seeds and Seed Libraries are a public good!

I will be away for this month, and so this is a great time to get involved in making the Charlottetown Seed Library a true community effort! If you are willing to be part of a team creating the display, and refilling the seed binders occasionally, please send me an email and we'll make a time to all meet up at the library in the next week.

Happy seedling starting, for those of you lucky enough to have sunny indoor space!

c/o Cooper Institute

(902) 894-4573Y

VisionPEI started a Facebook page to have some sort of social media presence:

from it:

it is worth noting that we we did not organize to influence the outcome of the pending election...our objectives are much more long term than that.

in a word, we have formed in order to help promote a more creative discourse across the Island when it come to the future of our province...and we will be happy to welcome into the group any who would like to be a part of that process;

there are already more than fifty of us representing every portion of the political spectrum and every region of the Island...if you care about the future of the Island and would like to be a part of the Vision process we would welcome you into the circle. --David Weale

Today's Global Chorus is by Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Wasts-Cloutier, who knows the north. She is a author of a book coming out this year, The Right to be Cold.

She writes:

"I am confident the world can come together as one if we could come to know just how connected we all are. The world needs to realize that our environment, our economies and our communities are not siloed or separate, but are all connected by our shared atmosphere and oceans –not to mention through our human spirit.

<snip>(She talks about the importance of the ocean and the future it faces.)

Politics and economics tend to keep these issues in a 'fearful' place where civil society feels it has no power over how the issues are being dealt with. However, I feel real power lies in individuals, families and communities as they become more aware that this issue is just as much about humanity as it is about industry. It is time to allow ourselves to see that our planet and its people are one, and to move beyond the rhetoric of politics and economics to one of the human dimension. Once we start to really 'see' one another and better understand our interconnectedness, we will be able to feel more compassion. This compassion will translate into clarity, focus and action as to how else we could be addressing these common challenges of environmental degradation of our planet." -- Sheila Watt-Cloutier

March 12, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

If you have the chance to pick up The Guardian today, you will see this op-ed piece on top right of page A-9:

Vision Initiative for Islanders - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale

New group of concerned Islanders releases key talking points

Sometime during the fall of 2014 a group of concerned Islanders decided something had to be done. Convinced that the Island, the place we all cared about, was on a most hazardous course, with little sign of the leadership required to chart a new path, we went to work and began crafting a new, non-partisan, vision for the province. After countless discussions around kitchen tables we came up with the following talking points, along with a longer document we call the ‘Kitchen Table Manifesto’.

We do not support any political party, but are very willing to have any or all of those parties adopt some of the princiles we have enunciated. We also are prepared to speak out in a cautionary manner when any politician or political party advocates a position at variance with our stated principles.

Objectives of the group are stated succinctly in the talking points below. We did not take form to affect the outcome of the pending election. Our objectives are much more long term than that. We have formed in order to help promote a more creative discourse across the Island when it comes to the future of our province and we will be happy to welcome into the group any who would like to be a part of that process.



Without it everything that follows becomes corrupted.

“We need a transformative vision.” The present system has failed on many fronts. No amount of tinkering will do. Electing a different party to govern will not do. The old paradigm simply is not working for the majority of Islanders.

“A 20-year perspective.” Here is the crux of the matter. If we begin to implement the new vision now, in 20 years we will be on the way to a vibrant new society and economy. If we carry on as we have for the past 20 years we will cease to exist as a separate jurisdiction. It’s just that critical.

“Be excellent or go under!” For us it’s not a matter of ‘go big or go home’. That option is not plausible for this Island, and the attempt to move in that direction has been disastrous. It is a matter of ‘be excellent or go under’.

“Our size is our strength.” “Our smallness and insularity are not liabilities, rather opportunities, and need to the very source of our inspiration.”

“Pride of place is our primary resource.” From tip to tip Islanders believe passionately that PEI is a wonderful place. That, combined with innovative thinking and bold action, will draw forth the best in all of us.

“Clean water and air, and healthy soil, are non-negotiable.” We could have the most progressive environmental laws in North America, and why should we aspire to less? Our wellness depends on it, and our success requires it.

“The ‘copy-cat’ never excels.” Our natural advantages are squandered when we try to be like everyone else, and become imitators rather than innovators. The reformation begins with confidence, creativity and imagination. We don’t have to be afraid of what is new, but it is foolish to embrace it just because it is. We need to know it, measure it, then accept or reject it on our terms.

“Time to stop the bleeding.” What if we continue on our present path? The certain results: unprofitable farming and fishing operations; environmental degradation that compromises the health of Islanders and damages tourism; the ongoing exodus of young persons and young families in droves; a potentially lethal debt; and eventually cynicism and despair.

“Energy self-sufficiency.” Continuing dependency on uncertain sources for our energy is a formula for ongoing insecurity and prohibitive cost. The only thing blocking the path to energy self-sufficiency is a lack of vision and confidence.

“Time to kick old political habits.” When success of Party is more important than the issues facing Islanders it is a formula for mediocrity and ultimately for failure. We need a reformed political system, and we need it soon.

“We have the gift of jurisdiction, let’s unwrap it.” Perhaps our most extraordinary resource is the gift of jurisdiction. But if we don’t use it wisely we will surely lose it.

“Imagine a rising tide of prosperity that lifts all the boats. You can have a concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few, or you can have democracy. Never both.

“It’s not just patronage, it’s corruption.” Let’s call a spade a spade. What we politely call patronage is a form of moral and political dry rot.

“Town and country are a team.” Imagine an economy where urban and rural development are recognized as being entirely complementary.

“Plain-talk, not double-speak.” Public life is impoverished by the numbing effects of political spin. Without forthrightness people live in a fog.

“To complain, or to create, that is the question.” Do we choose to continue in complaint mode for another ten years? Twenty years? Fifty years? Or do we choose to create something exceptional?

Note: If you are prepared to be a part of this process of re-visioning please contact either:

Dale Small or

Gerry Hopkirk or

David Weale


As someone who was in one of those discussions several weeks ago, I am *delighted* this conversation has started. More to come.

A fledgling Facebook group is the beginnings of social media:

Some notes:

The Guardian also has a story and CBC Radio is doing a story on the proportional representation forum around 7:15 today. The forum is Saturday afternoon at 2PM in room 242 of UPEI's McDougall Hall.


Today is the last day to register to the Premier's economic panel discussion on Monday. Contact

Plan B camp sentinel Mitch MacKinnon's birthday would have been today. He passed a short while ago and we will be celebrating his life on Saturday, March 28th, 7PM, in Bonshaw. Details later.


Global Chorus features author Dan Pollotta, who writes succinctly about the big step up non-profit/humanitarian groups need to take to have a bigger impact: "We have to allow it to market on the scale we allow Budweiser."

March 11, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A catch-up of events going on in the next few days:

Today, Wednesday, March 11th:

Green Machine Lunch and Learn on Global Chorus, noon-1PM, Holland College, Charlottetown, Prince of Wales Campus, Room 21C, Lunch provided, all welcome.

"Guest speaker Todd MacLean will discuss his recently published book, Global Chorus. (It is) a ground-breaking collection of over 365 perspectives on our environmental future. Its message is enormously inspiring, and ominous in its warnings.

'Global Chorus is a book that takes a broad look at our world today and how we can create a better one together. It’s exciting to emphasize to Islanders that broad scale global initiatives can be effectively brought to life from Prince Edward Island,' MacLean said." For more information contact:

Thursday, March 12th:

Green Machine Lunch and Learn on "Passive Solar Homes", noon-1PM, Holland College, Summerside Waterfront Campus, Room 73. Lunch provided and all welcome.

"Beth Peters will talk about her family’s experiences planning and building their home to stringent passive house standards. A passive house is an ultra-low energy building that requires little energy for heating or cooling. Beth Peters and her husband Ralph are an environmentally conscious couple trying to live sustainably, and they’ve just recently moved into their new passive home in Long River. This talk will be of interest to anyone striving towards sustainable living, and especially those who plan to one day build their own home.... For more information, contact Jeff Cameron at (902) 888-6411."

(Thursday, March 26th, a documentary on the same topic followed by a discussion panel, at UPEI in Charlottetown. More details later.)

Thursday is the last day to "register" for Premier MacLauchlan's economic forum, which is Monday, 9:30-12:30, Stratford.

Friday, March 13th:

Peace March, Gail Shea's Office in Charlottetown, 11:30AM, more details here:

Saturday, March 14th:

Green Party Policy and Platform Preview, 10AM-11:30AM, Bites Cafe, Hampton, all welcome.

"Preview our policy and platform, introduce our Campaign Manager and our Volunteer Coordinators, organize our volunteers by district and skill, introduce some of the Candidates and outline our plans to increase our share of the vote and elect our first MLA."

Proportional Representation Forum, 2-3:30PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall, Room 242, free. Sponsored by FairVote and LeadNow PEI.

Sir Tim Smit is a British archeologist, musician and innovator who (among other things) has developed a "biome" from an old clay pit in southwestern England called The Eden Project. More on him, including a five-minute film clip interview with Silver Donald Cameron, here:

And a quote from today's Global Chorus:

"...Humans, that called ourselves Homo sapiens: the wise hominid. What hubris if we are wrong, but what a triumph if we can live up to it. I delight at living in an age that represents a new enlightenment, where the challenges we face are worthy of being met and the cost of failure is so great it will concentrate the mind. People still do beastly and stupid things, they always will; however what we have now, for the first time ever, is the mechanism that allows the good to get organized. his is, to me, the real spiritual power of the Internet, and why I feel hope burning in me like an unquenchable fire."-- Tim Smit

March 10, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some good criticism and some good suggestions from caring Islanders addressed to our new Premier and what he has to deal with.

Petition for accountability and transparency in P.E.I. government - The Guardian Letter to the Editor by "The Vision Initiative"

Published on Monday, March 9th, 2015

Group calls on premier to restore Islanders’ confidence in system

Prince Edward Island is unique within Canada for being a small place that enjoys the full benefits of jurisdictional authority and responsible government. Achieving that status stands - even after 164 years - as one of the great accomplishments of the Liberal Party on P.E.I., and since that time political parties of all stripes have affirmed their commitment to retaining our position as a self-governing province. Further, passing on that legacy has been one of the great, shared projects of our political establishment. But today the continued success of that project seems more imperilled than ever before.

In recent years, right-wing think tanks and federal politicians have been turning up the heat in their call for Maritime Union, and in recent days, the gaze of the national media has begun to focus on the issue of our fitness for self-governance. While it is easy to feel as though our unique status is under attack from outside forces, the real threat is an internal one. The irresponsible use (and abuse) of our jurisdictional powers provides the single best argument for stripping us of our special status. And that argument is presently being made.

The national media is now shining a spotlight on allegations of influence peddling, graft, and the abuse of jurisdictional authority within our provincial government, which have been the topic of whispered conversations for years within our province.Charges of this nature are, of course, not unique to our province, and all fair-minded Islanders will also acknowledge that they are not unique to the current administration. However, they do present a unique challenge for our new premier.

Transparency and accountability are prerequisites for responsible government, and Premier Wade MacLauchlan can affirm his commitment to that tradition by doing everything in his power to provide the public with a transparent view of government’s actions – past and present. By taking personal responsibility for providing the citizenry with this transparency, the premier will ensure that the public can make informed decisions in our upcoming election. But perhaps more importantly, he will have a transformational impact on P.E.I.’s political culture, while making a strong argument on the national stage for our responsible use of jurisdictional authority. The alternative is for the second act of this national story is one on abuse of power - a story of cover-up and abdication of responsibility.

And so, as Islanders we call on Premier MacLauchlan to protect the continued viability of responsible government within this province by sending a clear message that government malfeasance and influence peddling (or even the appearance of such) must be thoroughly investigated in order to maintain faith in our fitness for self-governance.

A pre-election promise to have the understaffed Auditor General investigate the e-gaming issue, combined with a curious reluctance even to glance sideways at the PNP file, falls far short of what is required to restore Islanders confidence in the system. Lip service to transparency is not enough. The whole Island, and the whole country, is looking for signs of a leader who will act on principle and strike a blow against the creeping cynicism. The time is ripe.

Marion Reid, Charlottetown; Ryan McKenna, 48 Road; Sharon Myers, St. Patrick’s Road; and Dale Small, Rice Point, wrote this article on behalf of The Vision Initiative, a non-partisan group of Islanders committed to creative public discourse about the future of the province.


Environmental lens missing in Wade MacLauchlan's government priorities - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Friday, March 6th

The Guardian reported that our new premier recently identified 10 lenses for viewing the choices that government makes. Presumably, such lenses reflect his key values and commitments and will direct his attention to what he regards as most important.

Mr. MacLauchlan does not identify an environmental lens for looking at government choices. Or a sustainability lens. Given the many challenges that we face on P.E.I. to our land and to our water, including eroding soils, low organic content, nitrate contamination, fishkills, pesticides, water extraction, and the impacts of climate change, this is a puzzling omission. Certainly, Mr. MacLauchlan knows that a healthy environment is an essential priority for present and future prosperity. The Environmental Coalition of P.E.I. (ECOPEI) encourages the premier to get his lenses adjusted to help bring our environmental issues on P.E.I. into clearer focus before the next election.

Don Mazer, ECOPEI


And a look back:

Robin Hood Sheridan and his not so Merry Men - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Our million-dollar finance minister once likened himself to Robin Hood. A real stretch of the bow string me thinks! However, Minister Sheridan’s recent comments have inspired another great Island story.

Once upon a time some outrageous peasants sullied the name of his best friend and master "Robert the Ghiz" Sheriff of Nott(listen)ingham.

These evil knaves suggested he was the worst Sheriff in all the land. Robin Hood Sheridan quickly came to his defense, claiming for all the land to hear of the Sheriffs greatest deals and achievements.

Such amazing feats of accomplishment, eight years of hiding in the forest has earned him a gold-plated pension. He will be fondly remembered for so cleverly slipping the HST onto the unsuspecting peasants.

Bringing safety to our Island roads with the inexpensive Plan B highway. The Hills of Borden will surely be listed among the greatest wonders of the world.

However, many recent events in the forest have caused angst amongst the not so merry men, many are leaving the forest for greener pastures.

It has been foretold a new King is coming from far off lands to govern the forest. Robin Hood himself will find no place in the Kings inner circle and is hastily leaving the forest with his little circle on unhappy merry men. Little John George Webster is leaving to spend more time watching $40 movies in hotel rooms. Friar Tuck McKinley who has not been seen lately.

Soon the once richly rewarding forest will be bare and the new King will have to tax the peasants to refill the treasury. The sheriff and the merry men will ride off into the sunset hauling their golden pensions with them. Unfortunately for those of us left behind in this tale of Robin Hood the story will not end with "and we lived happily ever after".

F. Ben Rodgers, Abram Village

Todd MacLean, editor-in-chief of the anthology Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, was the guest speaker at the Women's Institute District 7 Convention, made up of branches from Argyle Shore to Augustine Cove. It was enjoyable to hear about the genesis of the book and wonderful to see others share in its inspiring messages.

The March 10 essay is by Tim Tamminen, president and founder of an organization called 7th Generation Advisors.


Seventh Generation Advisors puts into modern practice the ancient Native American philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. Ensuring that decisions being made about our energy, water, and natural resources are sustainable is central to this belief and to our mission.

He writes:

"To materialize this better world I believe we must see all things as connected, unlike science, which takes things apart and studies them in isolation. That’s how we are taught in school: to see animals, ecosystems, water, air, food, oceans and even the Earth itself as oddities to be understood as separate things – at best a fractured mosaic – without the perspective of standing back far enough to see how it all works together." -- Tim Tamminem

March 9, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Slowing down is the message in today's Global Chorus by Keibo Oiwa, a Japanese anthropologist and environmentalist. He started "The Sloth Club", an ecology and slow life NGO.

"The motto of our new era is 'less is more.' In our slow descent, we stop overdoing and find ourselves having more and more time to enjoy life. We’ll do less and be more. We will rediscover ourselves as human beings, not 'human doings.' It is a homecoming to our own nature. And this is a good reason to be hopeful." -- Keibo Oiwa

More info:

Here is an episode of "The Nature of Things" TV show with David Suzuki that primarily focuses on the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake, and includes interviews with Oiwa.

On Friday, the Premier's office made an announcement about a new panel of economic advisers and about a forum to be hosted by the Premier, for Monday, March 16th, 9:30AM to 12:30PM, at the Our Lady of the Assumption Hall in Stratford. People interested in going have to register, as space is limited, by e-mailing to by Thursday, March 12. All are welcome.

CBC News Story:

Some background comments from Leo Broderick:

from: Friday, March 6th, Facebook posting:

PEI Premier Wade Maclauchlan {non-elected} engages Michael Horgan, PM Stephen Harper's just retired deputy minister of finance, to determine PEI's economic future. Horgan with two other economists will hold a public forum on March 16 in Stratford.

Some more economics to think about:

from Allan Rankin, musician and former Clerk of Executive Council who left the Ghiz government in 2007, currently writing a weekly column ("Thinking about it") for the Graphic newspapers.

We Expect More Than Live-for-Today Attitude from Our New Premier - The Graphic newspapers article by Allan Rankin

Published on March 4th, 2015

Premier MacLauchlan believes we have a trade deficit.

He is right of course, and it is essential we sell quality goods and services for a higher return in a wider market place.

But if Prince Edward Island has a trade deficit, then it also has an environmental deficit, which threatens both our personal and economic future.

Our Island is reaching a tipping point in its environmental sustainability and that is the deficit our new premier and government had better start doing something about fast.

After a half century of intensive agriculture, especially large-scale potato growing, the Island’s soil has been degraded, waterways poisoned, and our drinking water placed in peril. If you are unfortunate enough to live or go to school in the potato belt, that area of the province where much of the potato production takes place, the fresh country air routinely is mixed with poisonous vaporized drift from agricultural pesticides and herbicides.

The million acre farm has become an unhealthy place to live and work.

Without question, agriculture is one of the Island’s economic engines, however the engine is being over driven and running hot.

Over the past five years, cash receipts from potatoes alone ranged from $203 to $257 million. Still, the potato industry is precarious and debt laden. Processing is now marginal at best with one of two plants closing its doors in 2014, and potato growers led by the Irvings continue to pressure government to permit deep well irrigation.

We need a new model and way forward as an agricultural province.

The environmental and ecological damage attributed to poor farming practises has been stunning over my lifetime. During the years I worked as a senior government official I watched as successive administrations refused to confront major environmental problems with strong and decisive policies or actions, instead taking baby steps gauged not to offend the farming community.

Major studies have been commissioned and reports tendered.

In 2008, Justice Armand DesRoches delivered a sobering report to the new government of Robert Ghiz on the quality of our drinking water and the increasing levels of nitrates mainly from the use of agricultural fertilizers, as well as manure storage and spreading operations. Serious health concerns are associated with high nitrate levels in drinking water, including blue-baby syndrome and some types of cancer and birth defects.

High nitrate levels in rivers, streams and estuaries also endanger aquatic life.

Water testing clinics at the time revealed 17 per cent of the Island’s private wells tested were either above or at the higher end of the maximum acceptable nitrate concentration, as set out in the federal Guidelines For Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

No one knows what the nitrate levels are today.

The recommendations of the DesRoches Report, which included a mandatory three-year crop rotation without exemption, a nutrient management and accounting program, and province-wide free water testing, were considered too drastic by a Ghiz cabinet than was dominated by farmers.

At the time, five of nine ministers had been actively engaged in farming before entering political life. Several maintained strong family connections to agriculture.

Little wonder the response to the DesRoches Report by government was silence, followed by feeble implementation.

A related environmental problem is crop cultivation too close to streams and rivers, with runoff from heavy rainfall killing fish by the thousands.

It has been my experience that nothing much happens in government unless the public actually demands it, or either the premier or a minister takes the bull by the horns and pushes an agenda forward.

Without a champion for the cause it’s a tough battle.

Imagine the dynamic within government as the Minister of the Environment attempts to enforce existing buffer zone regulations while the husband of her colleague, the Minister of Community Services, who now happens to be chairman of the PEI Potato Board, violated those same regulations.

It puts an interesting twist on the relationship between lawmaker and lawbreaker.

I feel a sad country song coming on.

Prince Edward Island has not had an environmental champion in cabinet since Montague’s Gilbert Clements. I worked for Mr Clements early in my career. He was vain at times and extremely demanding of staff. But he possessed great conviction and his commitment to the natural environment of the province was unshakable. As a student of former Premier Alex Campbell and the comprehensive development plan, Premier MacLauchlan will know and appreciate Mr Clements’ many achievements.

It is early days for Premier MacLauchlan. He needs to elaborate on his vision for Prince Edward Island’s future. He needs to seek election, and if successful, to govern a province facing diverse challenges.

But I believe there could be no greater legacy for our new premier, with his optimistic drive and self-confidence, and his obvious deep commitment to the Island, than to ensure its environmental health and sustainability for future generations.

Our environmental deficit is very real and bankruptcy is not an option.

And the last (and best) comment on the economy, from a speech Robert F. Kennedy gave at the University of Kansas, almost 47 years ago, March 18th, 1968. It was in the middle of America's involvement in the Vietnam War and during terrible race riots. Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June of that year just after winning the California Democratic presidential primary. I have printed it before.

It's impossible to bold parts of it the whole section just needs to be read. The entire speech is here:

(Consider it with Canada, and P.E.I., in place of America.)

If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America.

And this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year. But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction - purpose and dignity - that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans. -- Robert F. Kennedy, 1968

March 8, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Margie Loo was interviewed for yesterday's Guardian by reporter Steven Sharrett on her thoughts regarding paths in agriculture that we can take on P.E.I. Her patient promotion of working as one community of farmers and eaters is just want we need to hear and act on. The article is first, then her entire presentation to the Pesticide Free PEI forum in Poole's Corner on Saturday, February 21st. Happy reading! (Bold is mine.)

Island farmer says P.E.I. needs farm surcharge system -The Guardian article by Steve Sharratt

Published on Saturday, March 7th, 2015

VALLEY — Growing stuff just comes natural to Margie Loo.

But mung beans and sunflower seeds aren’t the only things sprouting in her country greenhouse these days.

Loo has some fresh ideas about the line in the sand being drawn between farming and the environment and she has been planting those ideas wherever she can. “It’s time to erase the battle lines and recognize that we are all part of the same community here,” she said.

She may be an organic farmer, but Loo, who grew up in the red dirt of Springfield in central P.E.I., isn’t preaching the sermon to turn the million-acre farm into an organic paradise. “I am not here to say that everyone should switch to organic farming tomorrow. Farmers are expected to produce a crop every year and it must be pretty much perfect,’’ she told a recent public forum. “Most farmers sell into the open market place where there is no customer loyalty and prices are fixed by others in the race for the lowest.”

That’s not to say Loo — pronounced Low — wouldn’t like to see the expansion of organic and the decline of pesticide dependent farming, but she knows all too well the intricacies of such a task. These days, the owner of Elderflower Organics, tucked away in south eastern P.E.I., is espousing the benefits of a food surcharge system. “We have a surcharge on tobacco and alcohol because of the related issues ... why not on food to help create a fund and move towards a healthier environment?”

And how do you create such a fund? Loo suggests a one per cent surcharge on grocery store food that isn’t grown organically. “That would mean for every $100 you spend on groceries that aren’t organic, you would pay $1.00. In one year that could raise enough to provide $100 an acre for 100,000 acres.”

It’s called an ecological services payment for delivering ecologically sound farm practices, improving tilth (organic matter), and eliminating the most toxic agricultural chemicals out of the system towards certified organic practices.

Now before you spill your coffee and start ranting against the idea of the public having to pay extra to improve soil quality, Loo says it’s a small charge with huge paybacks. “It costs more to grow crops in an ecologically sound manner than farmers are being paid,’’ she says. “And the most visible example is our increase in health care costs. Better farm practices will improve the health of our whole community.”

Take our closest neighbour to the south. In Maine, supermarkets are required to have several rows of products grown in the state and sold at fair price levels to farmers. Consumers then have the opportunity to pay more to local farmers.

“Farmers aren’t the problem,’’ says Alan Hicken, former chair of the Environmental Advisory Board. “Primary producers need to be paid fairly for their products.” Hicken, also a guest speaker at the public forum, said there is no doubt changes must be made. “We need to provide incentives to move away from pesticides, and disincentives for using pesticides,” he said. “The organic matter in P.E.I. soil is at critical low levels and climate change and dramatic changes in rainfall will continue to cause problems in the future.”

Hicken, who lives in South Pinette, said he would like to see a ‘P.E.I. state of the environment report’ published regularly in a peer-reviewed format to track real data on the subject.

Loo’s surcharge idea would create two separate income streams for farms — one from farm sales and the other from environmental services payments. She said there could be a sliding scale in which those performing the most ecological services would receive the most per acre for their efforts. Farmers would be able to take the most toxic chemicals and most vulnerable farm land out of service and rewarded for doing so.

“My (late) brother Raymond was always a great inspiration for me and one thing he said stuck with me — The question isn’t if we can make the Island organic, the question is do we want to?”

The surcharge idea is a model already used in many parts of the world and is tied to clear environmental targets, like protection of watersheds, increasing organic matter and improving bio-diversity conservation.

The public forum she was addressing was hosted by Pesticide Free P.E.I. and Loo barely mentioned the word. “I didn’t say much about pesticides because it is clear they can’t be separated from the whole farm system,” she said in an interview. “Chemical-based agriculture uses a prescription model and converting land stripped of organic matter and microbial life back to biologically active soil takes time.”

Hicken told the public forum the balance of life hinges on the protection of the environment,

“If we don’t have our health, then wealth doesn’t mean much.”


And her presentation:

My presentation to the Pesticide Free PEI Forum - by Margie Loo

Posted on February 24th, 2015, on her blog (link above)

I grew up on a farm in Springfield (near Kensington). It was truly mixed. I went off to university hoping to find an easier life than my parents had. The work wasn’t the hardest part it was the financial uncertainty that was so wearing on them. Then in my late 20’s I felt the pull to return to farming. I seems you can leave the farm but is harder to get farming to leave you. Now I have come full circle and operate a mixed farm with my partner Dave Blum. We have a sprouting room where we grow alfalfa, and other sprouts, greenhouses, field crops, and livestock as well as doing some value added products.

I love growing things and nurturing life, but I have to admit the uncertainly I experienced as a child on the farm has not gone away. We have a lot going for us, we direct market so we get the whole value for our products, our crops are certified organic and we get a premium for that, we have found a few niches that give us some certainty in the market place. But the reality remains that farming is an uncertain livelihood. Whether you are a small scale direct marketer or are large scale and sell into the commodity market.

There is no model for farming that works for everyone, there are so many factors to consider, what part of farming you enjoy?, what kind of land base you have?, what market opportunities there are?. Here at Elderflower Organic Farm there have been a lot of experiments and although the list of things we are doing now seems long we have also let go a many potential crops and opportunites because well we can’t do everything. Our primary objective is to have as complete a production circle as possible, by getting all the value we can from our crops and land while using pigs to increase soil fertility and to act as living composters for all the cull vegetables and such that we can’t sell.

We have been gradually making the transition to livestock for a number of years, and for a number of reasons. The soil on this farm is very sandy without much clay. It has been a challenge to build fertility. Pasturing pigs in rotation with crops seemed like an excellent solution to this problem, after many years of hauling in off farm manure and spending countless hours making compost. We are just beginning to see what pigs can do to the land and it is very exciting. We have opted for as natural system as possible with the pigs having access to the outdoors year around.

So far we aren’t getting rich from the pigs, but they are helping us have a more complete farm system. Anybody who raises pigs will tell you that feeding them is expensive. The organic feed we give them is very costly but it is also high quality and helps provide a living for other organic farmers down the line.

By doing some on-farm food processing we have been able to add value to farm produce and create more winter income. I developed a recipe for making gluten and soy free veggie burgers that are made with our own vegetables and sprouted lentils. We sell them for home use and to restaurants, that has been our most successful value added product so far.

The farm has been certified organic for 15 years now, and the sky has not fallen. The insect and weed pressure hasn’t gotten worse although it varies from year to year depending on the season and the fertility of the field used that year.

There is a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be organic. The biggest one centres around the use of pesticides. Some chemical based farmers like to say that we use pesticides that are even worse than the chemicals they use. While on the other side consumers often demand assurance that we do not use any pesticides at all. Neither of these extremes are true.

So I think it would be useful to discuss what a pesticide is. According to the Canadian General Standards Board that writes the organic standards a pesticide is defined as: Anything used to attract, prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate any pests or alter the growth, development or characteristics of any plant. This includes any organism, substance or mixture of substances, and devices such as lures or traps.

In other words when I go out and hang red sticky traps in the orchard they are considered a pesticide. Also I use a few different bacteria that are toxic to insects, these are bacteria that are naturally occurring but have been cultured and packaged to be used for insect control – again these are pesticides. The organic standards are very clear about some obvious substances that are prohibited from use in organic systems such as Synthetic pesticides, genetically engineered products, synthetic growth regulators, etc. But being organic should not be defined by what we do not use nor by what we do not do – but rather by what we do:

To quote from the standard itself:

Organic production is a holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principal goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.

The general principles of organic production include the following:

1. Protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health.

2. Maintain long-term soil fertility by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil.

3. Maintain biological diversity within the system.

4. recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.

5. provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock.

6. Prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing, and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production.

7. Rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems.

Those principles are good guidelines for farming regardless of whether your practices are organic or chemical based. The point really is do we see nature as an ally or an adversary. Someone once wrote a article about this farm and described my farm practices using war analogies where my pest control measures were my weapons and the greenhouses were tanks. I found the article disturbing but it helped me understand how he and others see farming. He completely missed the point of why this farm is set up the way it is. If there is no diversity in the fields then it can not provide a place for beneficial insects to flourish. I don’t want to eradicate weeds and crop damaging insects, my goal is a balance where there are enough insects and weeds to create habitat for predatory insects and soil life. The more we simplify systems the less resilience they have.

I am not here today so say that everyone should switch to organic farming tomorrow. There is a lot expected of farmers. They must produce a crop every year and what they sell must be pretty much perfect. Most farmers sell into the open market place where there is no costumer loyalty and prices are fixed by others – not based on the cost of production. There is a huge amount of pressure to do everything in the most efficient way possible. And in this race to the lowest price – scale of production makes a huge difference. So for a long time now there has been more and more farmer’s dropping out and a few farms getting larger each year.

In Canada we pay some of the lowest prices for our food in the world, and that is especially clear if you look at the percentage of our income we spend on food. According to the research I have done there are only 4 other countries where the amount of household income spent on food is lower. On the other hand farmers in Canada get a lower percentage of farm revenue from government subsidies than most western countries.

It is not necessarily that consumers are unwilling to pay for food. Organic sales have been steadily going up in Canada now for more than a decade but the number of farmers transitioning to organic production has not kept pace. Why is that?

There are a number of reasons for sure. Farming organically is a complex system whereby the focus is on building healthy soil to feed your crop compared to the prescription model most chemical based farms employ, whereby you feed the plants directly. Making soil fertile again can take much longer than the three year transition period required to clear chemical residue out of the soil. But even the three year transition period is difficult because the land tends to not be very productive while soil building is occurring as organic fertilizers won’t work well in soil that is lacking diverse microbial life and organic matter. Anything produced on the land has no extra value in the market place for three years. So farmers have to take a considerable loss for several years, while incurring the costs involved in rehabilitating the soil.

Then there is the political/ideological barrier between farmers who use or don’t use chemicals. This is the same divide you can find in all parts of society. There is a lot of hostile language thrown back and forth so that organic farmers are accused of harbouring disease and insect vectors and chemical based farmers are accused of allowing pesticide drift and runoff.

It is time to erase the battle lines and recognize that we are all part of the same community. Our children all go to the same schools, we all drink the same water and breath the same air. farming is a noble occupation one that should command respect. So much as asked of farmers and the stakes are so high that one bad season can be enough to push a farm into bankruptcy.

I believe it is time for a paradigm shift in the way we look at this issue. It is time to collectively take stock of what it is farmers do, and think about how to ensure they are given the resources they need to do that. Farmers grow crops, and raise livestock, on average what is produced here travels almost 4000 KM before it reaches its end user. That person has no way of knowing how the food was grown or if the environment was stressed in the process. Living in an agricultural province, there is a limited local market, so the way I market is only an option for a small number of farms. And as I mentioned already when crops are sold into the commodity market the price is set based on supply and demand not the cost of production.

I have been contemplating another option, one I think is exciting. What if we identified the ecological services we want farmers to preform in order to enhance the environment and set about paying for those services independent of crop yields. In other words that would make two separate income streams for farms one from farm sales and the other from environmental services payments. There could be a sliding scale with those performing the most ecological services getting the most per acre for their efforts. This model is in use in many parts of the world and is tied to clear environmental targets, like protection of watersheds, sequestering carbon in soil by increasing organic matter and bio-diversity conservation (by protecting sensitive eco-systems, or planting multi-species hedges for example). Farmers would be able to take the most toxic chemicals and the most vulnerable farm land out of the equation and be rewarded for doing so.

Where would we get the money to do such a thing? We all hear about how tight the finances are in the province and in the country. I do think that if there was a will there would be a way. Right now the provincial budget for agriculture and Forestry is about $36.8 Million this year. Perhaps if the priorities were shifted some of that money could be moved. Much of the money in that budget goes to grants to help farmers make changes that will benefit the environment already, however it is a very piecemeal approach. Already almost all agricultural payments are tied to farmers completing environmental farm plans, but there is no obligation to make changes identified in the environmental farm plan recommendations. Beyond that there seems to be an endless stream of conferences and workshops to give farmers some new magic bullet that will make their farm economically stable. At some point we have to recognize that although education is important collectively we know enough, we have enough technology and more efficiencies, and equipment is never going to be enough to get us out of this situation.

Beyond the government coffers we the people of PEI can help directly too. What if we put a 1% surcharge on grocery store food that wasn’t grown organically. That would mean that for every $100 you spend on groceries that aren’t organic you would pay $1. In the course of a year we would have a lot of money (with my very rudimentary calculations I think that it would be in access of 10 Million). Enough to give a $100/acre payment for 100 thousand acres. My brother Raymond was always a great inspiration for me and one thing he said that has stuck with me this: The question isn’t if we can make the Island organic, the question is do we want to?

Do we want to enough to stop the endless blame game and start to work together, because that is the only way that I can see us getting where we want to go.

This essay is from Hawa Abdi Diblawe, a physician who saw firsthand the civil war in Somalia and its effects on families and women. She founded the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, which works to generate socially empowered and environmentally-responsible communities committed to sustaining long-lasting peace in Somalia." I can think of no better Global Chorus way to mark International Women's Day.

"If we want to find a way past current global crises, we need to teach love, respect and equality amongst all. I believe that the world is one. If one corner of the world feels pain, the pain will travel to other parts of the world as well. he same goes for happiness.Throughout the civil war, the patients I treated all felt the same hunger and thirst. We need to be attentive to our brothers and sisters from different corners of the globe." -- Hawa Abdi Diblawe

March 7, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Margie Loo, innovative and gentle farmer from Elderflower Farm, describes surcharge ideas for promoting better soil health in today's Guardian.

The article is based on her comments at the Pesticide Free PEI forum in Poole's Corner last month.

She was kind enough to send me her entire talk from the forum, which I will print tomorrow, in addition to the newspaper article, in case you don't see that today.

Margie is one of the fantastic Island farmers at farmers' markets, which are open today.

Also at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market today are the annual fruit sale for the PEI Symphony Orchestra -- not local fruit by any stretch, but in support of our local symphony, and a booth from LeadNow / FairVote about proportional representation (PR) and their other activities, a week ahead of the forum next Saturday at UPEI's McDougall Hall on PR.

Tomorrow is a "Seedy Sunday" in Summerside, 2-4PM, Summerside Rotary Library. Great event to get some seeds and talk to people.

Here is the link to the 18-minute three member Political Panel on CBC Radio Friday morning (publisher Paul MacNeill, former CBC Island Morning host and former PC MLA Wayne Collins, and Scott Brown, one of an apparent bevy of young Liberal lawyers who tries out the third chair):

Paul MacNeill and Rick MacLean on Compass TV for that political panel (4:40 minutes).

And more Paul MacNeill:

His column in Wednesday's Island Graphic newspapers:

A Fresh Face and a Big Question of Trust - The Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Rob Lantz is not a born politician. On entering the PC leadership race it was clear to all that glad-handing does not come naturally to the former Charlottetown city councillor. When pundits (Read: Me) expressed scepticism about his people and public speaking skills his supporters patiently said ‘Wait and see. He’s got it.’

They were right. Last Saturday all Islanders saw ‘it.’

Lantz delivered a spirited, effective speech to convention delegates. While light on specifics it played well. It got better while awaiting vote results when the candidate gave a passionate and articulate interview with CBC in which he defended his rural bona fides. Finally, his acceptance speech combined humility and class with the exuberance of a dynamic stump speech.

While not directly referencing a scandalous Globe and Mail story published earlier in the day, Lantz made a pointed reference that he will implement strengthened conflict of interest guidelines ‘to restore integrity to public office.’

If Liberals believed their path to a third majority is a smooth one, Rob Lantz’s selection is a defiant rebuke of that assumption.

Wade MacLauchlan claimed the Liberal leadership when all other potential candidates moved to the sidelines. Many Islanders view his ascension as manipulation by the party backroom.

MacLauchlan, in office little more than a week, now must deal with another case of Liberal backroom manipulation.

The new premier did not create the e-gaming get-rich-quick scheme that is now the talk of the Island and the source of national embarrassment for our province. But he is left to clean up the mess.

He responded Monday, not to outraged Islanders through a press conference but in a speech to deputy ministers and senior government managers. He promises to extend conflict of interest regulations to deputies and senior political advisors.

As a first response to a first crisis the premier’s promise is underwhelming and unlikely to build trust with the public.

This is a test of Wade MacLauchlan’s leadership. Islanders deserved a forceful and direct response to the partisan political games played by former members of the Ghiz government and political hangers on. We received a promise of future action.

The anger Islanders feel toward the Ghiz administration is palpable. MacLauchlan should have met The Globe and Mail story head on in a press conference. Our provincial reputation is sullied. PEI is too often seen as a Dogpatch backwater where who you know is more important than what you know.

Were laws fully followed? Did the former government intentionally mislead the public? Did any member of government or advisor attempt to use their position for personal benefit? Who informed the current Conflict of Interest Commissioner that government was not involved in the online gaming initiative? So many questions demand answers and Premier MacLauchlan should be the one demanding them.

The premier’s lack of action now raises the possibility that the electorate will hang the Ghiz legacy like an albatross around the new premier’s neck.

So why is a 5,500 plus word exposé in The Globe and Mail resonating with Islanders on an issue that was first reported in detail in The Graphic more than two years ago? While we broke top line details of the failed, secretive initiative to make PEI the online regulatory gaming capital of North America – an idea that is at best legally questionable - The Globe gives the debacle a face. It names names and provides dollar figures. It connects dots.

It is a story of unapologetic greed.

The Globe portrays the Charlottetown Liberal establishment around former Premier Ghiz as a group of insiders looking for an easy score. It is a story of arrogance, access, secrecy and most importantly trust in government.

Wade MacLauchlan wants to be considered the face of a renewed Liberal Party. The trust he enjoys from Islanders is engendered because of an appreciation for what he has accomplished in past roles. That goodwill will evaporate in a heartbeat if Islanders believe he is accepting of the abuses of the past.

Islanders must trust their government. That is what The Globe story is about.


The main players in the upcoming provincial election are now in place. Rob Lantz is young, smart, and technologically savvy. He is positioning himself as a thoughtful politician with a lot of upward potential.

Wade MacLauchlan is experienced and connected with a keen sense of the issues the Island faces.

Last weekend Rob Lantz walked away from his party’s years of turbulence and now leads a reinvigorated group that for the first time in a very long time is a viable alternative.

Wade MacLauchlan is not as quick to distance himself from the Ghiz legacy.

What he is failing to recognize is how he responds to this odious tale of greed will go a long way in determining if Islanders are prepared to trust him or whether they look to the fresh face at the helm of the Island PCs.

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

Ron Colman is executive director of GPI Atlantic (Genuine Progress Index Atlantic) organization:

an interview with Silver Donald Cameron of The Green Interview:

He writes in today's Global Chorus about where we are, and where we have to go as a planet. It's a lovely essay and here is one small quote:

"(There is) no need for 'sustsainable development' jargon; every human being simply wants the world to be safe and secure for their children." -- Ron Colman

March 6, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A correction about the forum on proportional representation on Saturday, March 14th, it's from 2-3:30PM and it is at Room 242, McDougall Hall, UPEI.

Islanders are concerned about the whole "e-gaming" story, among others,

with Premier MacLauchlan appearing on CBC Radio Wednesday morning and Compass that night (announcing at the suppertime show he will call in the Auditor General to review), and yesterday the conflict of interest commissioner explained why he wasn't in conflict.

The other parties are not just playing politics with this:

NDP PEI wants a judicial review

PCs are taking a strong stand against this, with The Guardian writing the a nice editorial on Tuesday:

and yesterday Green Party PEI's leader Peter Bevan-Baker held a new conference where he shared his concerns and suggestions. The media is reporting on the front page. Longer clip here:

and the story on last night's Compass TV news at about 3:30 (conflict of interest commissioner and then the Green Party story):

And the last word for this topic today goes to Island writer and historian David Weale in yesterday's Guardian:

Transparency can't be part time in P.E.I. politics - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, March 5th, 2015

When Premier MacLauchlan says he doesn’t want to go “back through the archives” (Guardian, March 3) looking for instances of miscreant behaviour by politicians and their staff, I suspect he is saying he doesn’t wish to initiate a PNP inquiry. But that’s scarcely archival. Many of the PNP players were the same ones with leading roles in the online gaming fiasco.

Others are current members of his government and caucus. If the premier is committed to transparency he must pull back the curtains, otherwise it will appear he is committed to transparency only when it suits him, which is not transparency at all.

Further, a few weeks ago Mr. MacLauchlan commented to CBC that, in his opinion, the PNP program requires no further investigation because Islanders passed judgment on it when they re-elected the Ghiz government in 2011. But that is a most specious argument. Islanders could not have passed informed judgment on PNP at that time because of the systematic cover-up of what had occurred. We were all in the dark, and to a great extent still are. Further, by making that argument the premier appears to be perpetuating the cover-up.

Do we need another embarrassing story in the Globe and Mail to finally get full disclosure of the extent of the PNP scandal? I’m hoping our new premier will spare us that.

David Weale, Charlottetown

CBC Radio read what sounded like a press release (but with a sound clip) from the Adrok company about their recent testing of their equipment to look for oil and gas and minerals in the National Park (Covehead), and that they will be going to the ice near Summerside next.

Global Chorus today is by Karl-Henrick Robert, and describes many interactions relating natural and human ecosystems, which he puts together in "The Natural Step" -- a really cool concept explained more fully here: and here:

March 5, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Tonight: Leadnow/FairVote meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, all welcome to discuss the upcoming forum on proportional representation.

Forum, Saturday, March 14th, 2-4PM, Haviland Club, free. The forum will discuss the history, types, and benefits of proportional representation systems. Norman Carruthers will moderate. Sponsored by FairVote and LeadNow Canada.

The group will also have an information booth at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market this Saturday, from 9AM - 2PM.


Last night I attended the Green Economy Network (GEN) meeting, an initiative started by Island gem Mary Boyd. GEN is a group of Islanders promoting renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, with employment at a livable wage. All are welcome to get involved in this, especially talking with politicians about these issues in the next few months.

Keeping in mind that reducing use and efficiency measures are the first keys, a related article:

Heat pumps used as fall guy - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Evan Downie

Published on Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Islanders being penalized for trying to save energy

There is a new proposal afoot to increase the cost of electricity on the Island. The increase is Maritime Electric’s attempt to defer the cost of an early upgrade to the cabling that supplies P.E.I. from the mainland onto Island consumers.

Maritime Electric suggested cause for an early upgrade? Increased consumption by Islanders.

More specifically, Islanders who are attempting to offset the high cost of oil, and electricity to heat their homes, by using heat pumps. That’s an ironic suggestion given the province supplies rebates for switching to these systems, based on efficiency.

As background, heat pumps are a refrigeration-based technology that can be much more energy efficient than traditional oil furnaces, or electric baseboard heat. In other words, a technology that reduces cost by using less energy. Or a greener answer to home heating, at a lower operational cost.

The truth about these systems is that, for people who used baseboard electric heat as I did, they will use less electricity. For me it is approximately a quarter less.

For those who use oil heat they can, in many cases, heat their home for approximately double their average electricity cost per month, during the four coldest months of the year. Or about the energy equivalent of using an electric hot water heater, and a dishwasher over the same time period. A modest increase at best.

Between provincial rebates for installing heat pumps, and decreased electric heat cost, an increased consumption argument would appear to fall some what short of being accurate. A detail that could be easily clarified by a study of electricity consumption, and seasonal temperature changes, on P.E.I. over an extended number of years. Without which, it is impossible to know what increases there have been, or point to a cause.

Beyond this I would like to draw attention to the 25 per cent plus capacity of our provincial wind farms; one of the highest ratios of production in the world. These turbines, purchased primarily with tax dollars, would easily offset any increase in consumption. If indeed there is one, on our local grid, without any need for more energy from the mainland, or upgraded cabling.

Instead the turbine-produced energy, as we know, is sold by the province to Maritime Electric at a profit. Then they, in turn, sell it back to us, also at a profit. This is contrary to the Summerside model where their turbines are used to offset purchasing from the mainland. Which produces savings, that are then passed onto their consumers.

In conclusion, I counter that there are no facts, as yet, presented that heat pump use is a reasonable cause to transfer the cost, for an upgrade to the grid, onto Island consumers. Especially when, it appears, proper management of the available resources would result in saving Islanders money. With out any change to cabling from the mainland being necessary. Further to that, and in my opinion, electricity is the energy source of choice for homes.

It should be regarded as a necessity in this modern world and viewed as a common good. Privatization of common goods does not create a “free market”, instead it produces monopolies. These private monopolies then use their control to distort profit margins by manipulating prices and deferring costs. Protecting citizens from this type of extortion is one of the primary purposes of government. I believe our government is failing to do so, in this situation.

Evan Downie of Charlottetown is a licensed electrician and has worked on P.E.I. for roughly 10 years. Part of his work has been the installation of heat pumps, primarily on large commercial buildings.

Embracing the world the way it is and moving along is the theme of today's Global Chorus essay by author Andrew Blackwell.

"<snip> In an era when human effects reach to every corner of the globe, caring about the environment may mean setting aside Nature-worship as we know it, while we strive to make already transformed environments healthier and more sustainable."-- Andrew Blackwell

Blackwell is the author of Visit Sunny Chernobyl (which our public library system has)


A travel guide for the eco-apocalypse. An exploration of a nature-less world. A memoir of adventure and heartbreak. Holy men, oil men, radioactive boy scouts, and way too much vodka. Earth-shatteringly profound, head-smackingly foolish, Visit Sunny Chernobyl is a love letter to a polluted planet, and an impassioned argument for the future of environmentalism.

March 4, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Editorials, from far and near:

Chastisement from today's Globe and Mail, found on-line last night (bold is mine):

(I think I would prefer to call it, "Anne of Gross Gambling")

Globe editorial

Anne of Green Gambling: A homespun tale of conflict of interest - The Globe and Mail Editorial

Published Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

There is a tendency elsewhere in Canada to discount Prince Edward Island’s politics – after all, its population is that of other provinces’ mid-sized cities.

Islanders are justifiably ruffled by such condescension. Theirs is a full-fledged province with commensurate obligations and, apparently, big-government problems when it comes to trading in influence.

Freshly-minted Premier Wade MacLauchlan is vowing to fix longstanding lacunae in the provincial government’s ethical code. It’s a welcome development.

That it first required a Globe and Mail investigation into insider-dealing and rampant conflicts of interest concerning a proposed online-gaming operation on PEI is telling as well as unfortunate.

Rules on lobbying and conflict of interest are not a new thing, or at least not in most of the rest of the country. Ottawa adopted the Lobbyist Registration Act in 1989. Ontario became the first province to bring in comprehensive ethics guidelines a decade later. The need for legislative oversight has long been clear.

And yet PEI is the only province without such laws, along with the three territories. (New Brunswick approved lobbying legislation last year, though it has yet to be proclaimed.) Good on Charlottetown for finally moving to address this.

Perhaps a word of advice: A six-month “cooling off” period for civil servants and government officials who depart for the private sector is inadequate, even in a place where career options aren’t as plentiful as in, say, Ottawa.

The scale of the problem – the provincial Ethics Commissioner invested in the gaming venture – demands clear and tough rules, not to mention more investigation.

But Premier MacLauchlan, who will soon face an election, apparently feels no need to call a judicial inquiry because “the media have done a very good job of this.”

That’s awfully nice of him to say, but provincial NDP Leader Michael Redmond’s withering retort was that PEI is behaving like “an incestuous and backward place” in terms of political morality.

If the government doesn’t wish for that to ring true, a lot more action is warranted.

A bit of a sloppy one from the Summerside Journal-Pioneer (bold is mine)

Election fever is in the air - The Journal Pioneer Editorial

Published on Sunday, March 01, 2015 (on-line) and Monday in print in The Journal-Pioneer

For the province’s Progressive Conservatives, Saturday was a momentous day.

Three candidates were vying for the party’s top job, with 45-year-old former Charlottetown city councillor Rob Lantz coming out victorious.

Lantz beat out Darlene Compton and MLA James Aylward for the leadership will now lead his party into the next election. Although both were defeated in their leadership bid, Compton and Aylward have already come out in support of Lantz and both intend to offer their names for nomination in their respective districts for the PCs.

Saturday’s leadership convention was a far different affair than that of the Liberal Party of Prince Edward Island just a week earlier. There, that party crowned the race’s lone entrant, now Premier Wade MacLauchlan, as its leader.

Now it seems that, by all indications, both parties are now poised to officially start their campaigns, although we have all known the campaign has been on for months for what many believe and most suspect will be a spring election.

Friday night, MacLauchlan made official what many had been speculating since Robert Vessey stepped down as MLA little over a week ago to become the premier’s chief of staff — that he would be seeking the nomination in that district.

And, it would be safe to say, that it will be a bid, just like MacLauchlan’s bid for the leadership, that will undoubtedly go unopposed.

The Island’s two major parties are fast filling their rosters and, not too far behind them, are the New Democrats. That party, under the leadership of Mike Redmond, has indicated it fully intends to have candidates in all 27 ridings.

The Green Party, too, is rallying the troops, with party leader Peter Bevan-Baker last week announcing his intention to seek the nomination in District 17 Kelly’s Cross-Cumberland, where, if he wins the nomination, he will go up against embattled Liberal MLA and Community Services and Seniors Minister Valerie Docherty.

Green is confident in his party’s chances in a provincial election, although the party has never won a seat, most often coming in fourth in the polls.

One thing is for certain an election, even if it isn’t called until the fall, is coming and election fever is in the air.

And even though the parties and their candidates may be confident in their ability to lead this province and their chances at the polls, no one will know for certain the outcome until the ballots are cast and the votes tallied.

Until then, we, as Islanders, can only watch, listen, wait and see.


Green Party PEI Deputy Leader Darcie Lanthier clarified things from the Party's perspective in a rebuttal to the editor, and this was published later on-line:

Smaller Parties Making In-Roads - The Journal Pioneer Editorial

In Monday’s editorial we suggested that the New Democratic Party is chasing down, albeit slowly, the province’s two main political powerhouses in the Liberals and Conservatives while making little mention of the past growth of the Island Green Party.

It was a comment that did not go unnoticed by Darcie Lanthier, a sharp-eyed reader (and presumably a strong Green Party supporter).

We said the Liberals and Conservatives are fast filling their rosters in anticipation of an early provincial election and not too far behind them are the New Democrats.

Our error in the eyes of Lanthier was that we failed to mention that in the last provincial election in 2011, the Green Party not only ran more candidates than the NDP, it also garnered more votes – 4.4 per cent compared to 3.2 per cent, and had a similar result in the election prior to that as well.

Lanthier is 100 per cent correct.

There were, in fact, only two parties elected to the Legislative Assembly, however, the other parties (Green, NDP and Island) probably deserve more recognition than perhaps they get; nearly eight per cent of Islanders did collectively vote for one of them.

There is no doubt that the Greens, NDP and maybe even the Island Party are real political parties. But none ought to be perceived in a higher regard than the other. Deciding that honour belongs to the electorate of P.E.I.

Read on for Lanthier’s full comments:


I just read your editorial "Election Fever is in the air.” Please correct all the information you have included about the Green Party of P.E.I. It is difficult enough starting a political party on P.E.I. without you misrepresenting the party, its achievements and leader. The P.E.I. Election Laws are the worst in the country, the new premier is holding a vanity election a year ahead of schedule instead of the three byelections that are needed and you are printing that the NDP is the third party. That never happened.

Maybe you would like an interview with Dr. Bevan-Baker? He has sent the Journal two press releases in the last week and his office is located in Hampton.

The Green Party has placed third in both of the past two provincial elections. Dr. Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the party, is the candidate for District 17 and he looks forward to the campaign. In the last provincial election (2011), the Green Party of Prince Edward Island ran 22 candidates while the NDP only fielded 14. The Journal Pioneer editorial staff would be well advised to check their email, Elections P.E.I. or at least Wikipedia before going to print.

*For the record: to be considered an ‘official party’ in P.E.I. a party needs to field at least 10 candidates in an election.

And from Tuesday's Guardian, the lead editorial, very coherent:

Jason Aspin suggests Million acre organic farm for P.E.I. - The Guardian Editorial

Published on March 03, 2015

Island businessman issues challenge to make province environmental leader

Jason Aspin says Islanders need to start dreaming bigger. Some critics suggest he is the one dreaming — based on a number of comments posted to social media following the publication of a story in The Guardian last week. There will always be critics of new ideas and daunting challenges so Mr. Aspin should not be dismayed. A majority of commenters actually supported Mr. Aspin and wished him good luck.

At the heart of the matter is a call from the Island entrepreneur for P.E.I. to switch entirely to organic farming and clean energy, and get its financial house in order. Corporate P.E.I. is not usually known for supporting green initiatives. Mr. Aspin takes the issue from the left margin and puts it squarely front and centre on the Island agenda.

The CEO of Aspin Kemp Enterprises, who moved his business operations to P.E.I. last year, might have expected a hostile reception from business leaders attending the Eastern P.E.I. Chamber of Commerce event but his three-fold challenge was greeted with warm applause.

Critics suggested that Mr. Aspin is positioning himself for a political career, that his company took advantage of government incentives to come here and that his challenges are unrealistic.

Eastern business leaders apparently feel differently. Instead of his challenges being viewed as an attack against agriculture and certain Island businesses, they viewed them as an opportunity to create new jobs and wealth, and transform the province into a productive, environmentally friendly and unique place for people to live, work and play — and provide even more reasons for tourists to come here.

He called on the province to put in place a successful financial model or “we are going to be in trouble.” Switching to green energy solutions could provide the spark for that new model.

Before dismissing Mr. Aspin as a dreamer, one should examine where he’s coming from. He’s obviously a successful businessman, he obviously believes in this province and he obviously wants to make P.E.I. a better place to live and work.

With our major municipalities endorsing and implementing bans on cosmetic pesticides, one-half of the province’s population is already on the road to curtailing pesticides. The agriculture sector would like to move in that direction if at all feasible but it needs help from industry and scientists for that to happen.

Mr. Aspin says the province should set a vision and target dates to harness alternate energy systems, switch to 100 per cent organic farming and create a sound financial model for citizens. Almost everyone would support these ideas if feasible. Attaining them is the hard part but if goals are never set, goals are never reached.

When President John F. Kennedy declared a goal in May 1961 to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, some scoffed but many more were excited. The U.S. harnessed its ingenuity and fulfilled the late president’s dream on July 20, 1969. Many view the Apollo mission as the greatest technological achievement ever accomplished by mankind.

Perhaps the province should set those goals and guidelines suggested by Mr. Aspin and see if we can attain them. We might fail, but we’ll make things better for the trying. Mr. Aspin believes Islanders are up to the challenge because P.E.I. offers the opportunity to be creative and innovative. Solar, wind and tidal power offer increased renewable energy opportunities. Instead of being known as the gentle Island or another little Island, we’ll be famous as the environmentally friendly green Island.

Mr. Aspin should be applauded for articulating those challenges.


Helena Norberg-Hodge is an author and filmmaker, a pioneer of the "new economy" movement. She is the author of Ancient Futures and the Economics of Happiness, the latter in book and film format. More info here:

In the March 4th Global Chorus, she calls for a change in our economic system. Growth and global trade is concentrating wealth, impoverish many, ruining our land and water, she writes. But:

"The good news is that the shift towards the local is already underway, led by thousands of farmers markets, local business alliances and community banks. <snip>

"Localization is not an impossible dream. If the many millions of people working to create a better world -- from protecting rainforests to feeding the homeless -- also address the economic root causes of these problems, then the movement for economic change will grow rapidly, and a better future will be within reach." -- Helena Norberg-Hodge

March 3, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

I am not sure why March 3rd is the auspicious day for Global Chorus to print an essay from the Canadian lion, Stephen Lewis; but I am always glad, and made more strong-hearted, to hear him roar. Here is his whole submission, which is part of a previous essay he did.

"In 1988 I was fortunate enough to chair the first major international conference on climate change. We had between three and four hundred scientists and politicians gathered together over several days. The debate was of enormous intensity, and at the end of it a declaration was drafted, the opening words of which read as follows: 'Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.'

"That’s why I’m going to speak to you from the heart and as honestly as I can. In my view, the only answer to this crisis is the most dramatic reduction in the dependency on fossil fuel and the discharge of carbon; everything else is incidental. We’re in a tremendous race against time. This isn’t some abstraction. In order to avert the crisis that is looming, we have to create global citizens. We have to create citizens with acute environmental sensibilities, with a profound and honest understanding of the issues at stake. he truth of the matter is that we have unleashed forces which are not being curtailed, and everybody recognizes that what is required is political will to reverse the process.

"It is absolutely unbearable that young people are going to have to live with the consequences we have created. I’ve often thought, in my own life, that I should have spent a lot more time working on environmental issues. I feel a kind of insensate guilt and shame that 20 years ago I was part of a conference that forecast what was coming, and I chose to do other things and find other priorities

"I have three grandsons, ages 9, 7 and 2, and I can’t stand the thought of what they’re going to inherit. I’m not sure it’s possible to turn around an apocalypse, but if it is, it will come through environmental education, and it will come through collective, skilful, principled and uncompromising leadership." --Stephen Lewis

A bit of a recap on his visit and Symons Lecture speech in Charlottetown from last November:

And the words that stick, so easily repeated and shared on social media and other places:

"LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND." -- Stephen Lewis, November 2014, on fossil fuels.

And if you don't want to see it pumped through pipelines in Eastern Canada:

Today is the last day to comment on the Energy East Pipeline project. The National Energy Board is doing this review, and not considering climate change in its approval process of the pipeline. Hmm.

from Tony Reddin of the Sierra Club PEI Chapter, further quoting Cameron Fenton of the group, urging citizens to make a brief application to be an intervenor. (Which involved submitting comments now and following along the process on the website.)

"(This) takes about 15 minutes to do this intervention application; deadline is today, Tuesday, March 3rd, at , midnight Eastern time, when (now from

'the National Energy Board application period for Energy East will close. This is the biggest tar sands pipeline ever proposed, with the climate impact of adding millions of cars to the road.

Hundreds of people across Canada have already flooded the NEB with applications to talk about the climate change impacts of Energy East. The more people who apply now, the harder it will be for PM Harper and Big Oil to ignore the devastating impact of the biggest tar sands pipeline ever.

Can you pitch in by applying to intervene on Energy East now? The process takes about 15 minutes, and I made a step-by-step illustrated guide to make it easy: [See link below) follow the directions to join the People's Intervention on Energy East

Every application we send makes PM Harper[-con]'s work to fast track Energy East harder.

and background on the project:


The step-by-step guide is very thorough and easy to follow and provides some comments pre-made for you to submit.

Tonight, the next phase of upgrading areas of the TransCanada Highway continues. This is the first I have heard that this section of Tryon is next, and needs permission to de-designate land for the "realignment" to presumably go through to cut the curve:

screenshot from a recent Guardian newspaper notices section.

This parcel is to the south of the TCH, a bump section of road, between Tryon and North Tryon going west towards Albany, near the intersection of Route 232 with signs for "Lady Fane". (Sorry I don't have the link to the provincial map service with the parcel number on it-- you might think it should be in the ad)

Is anyone getting any suspicious e-mails from "me"? (Besides these updates :-) ) I had one report, and trying to figure out what it is.

Have a lovely day. The Guardian's lead editorial today shows support for businessman's Jason Aspin's speech about P.E.I. moving towards green energy and organic farming, if you can see a print copy or on-line later this morning. I will share it another day.

March 2, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

It's a bit heavy on politics today, still:

The NDP PEI is making a significant policy announcement at 11AM at the Province Room, Rodd Charlottetown, 75 Kent Street.


Some thought-provoking letters in the paper Saturday (bold is mine):

What Is the Job of an MLA? - The Guardian column by Alan Holman

Published on Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Today is the day the Tory bears have their picnic . . . and chose a new leader.

More than 2,000 Conservatives have already cast their ballots at the two advance polls. It will be interesting to see how many people will come to the convention. The forecast is promising a nice, not too cold, sunny day. Will people go skiing, snowmobiling or politicking?

The Conservatives don’t appear to be too awed by the Wade juggernaut. They sense there’s change in the air. The party seems to have renewed itself, and generally Conservatives appear quietly confident about their chances in the next election. However with the convention being televised, they need to pack the Field House at UPEI as a demonstration of their optimism.

There will be a spring election, likely on April 20 or 27. The Liberals have nominated candidates in more than half the ridings and the Conservatives aren’t far behind. The NDP and the Green Party are also getting their ducks in order.

We will soon be asked to chose a new government. Many of us will decide who we select as our MLA based on our views of their leader, without much consideration of the individual we actually mark the ballot for. Or, if you’re a traditional party stalwart you’ll vote without a thought for the leader or the MLA. Because you’ve always voted that way.

But, those old traditional voting patterns are breaking down, they are not nearly as prevalent as they once were. There are more and more swing voters, people with no party allegiance. They vote for the party they think will do the best job . . . or to punish the gang that’s already there.

Then there are the people who just don’t bother to vote. They hold the view it doesn’t matter who is in power. Politicians do little more than look after themselves and their friends. Even among those who vote, there are some who feel the same way. They vote, but they don’t expect much.

And, in an oblique sort of way, we are all responsible for this attitude. We never demand our politicians to do their jobs properly. Partly because of indifference, and mostly because we have no idea what the job of a Member of the Legislative Assembly entails, and this includes most MLAs themselves. Once elected, if they don’t get named to the cabinet, they make it up as they go along.

At a recent public meeting when two MLAs were asked to define their jobs, both essentially said the same thing. They primarily see themselves as ombudsmen, people who help their constituents deal with the complexities of modern government. If that is the main function of an MLA, it would likely be more efficient, and certainly fairer to create a non-partisan ombudsman to intercede with government.

There are others who say an MLA’s job is to get stuff for the riding; schools, parks, paving, employment. Tangible stuff that you can see and feel.

Neither of the MLAs at that meeting talked about the work of the legislature itself. About what role they played in making laws, or amending legislation, or holding the executive branch accountable. The airy-fairy intangibles that were, in the beginning, the very reason the legislative assembly was created.

The executive branch is the cabinet. It was once the duty of every MLA, including government members, not in the cabinet, to hold the executive accountable. To demand the cabinet explain and account for its actions, is in theory, if not in practice, is still one of the main functions of all MLAs, including those of the governing party. By not doing this, their jobs seem irrelevant. The public is also at fault because we demand so little of them. Other than, where’s the lolly?

An example: The controversial immigrant nominee program. Cabinet insisted it was all above board, and it may have been. But, every time opposition MLAs wanted to question the bureaucrats administering the program, the cabinet said no. And the Liberal backbenchers who form the majority on the legislative committees also said no. They wouldn’t hold the executive branch accountable for its actions. The result is, that as fine as the nominee program might have been, there is a stench around it that won’t go away. The cabinet looks like they were covering something up, and they were aided and abetted by a legislature that didn’t do its job.

Conscientious MLAs wouldn’t have allowed this. However, it’s oft been said, we get the government we deserve.

Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at:

This smile was also published Saturday, written before The Globe and Mail article on P.E.I. and the internet gambling hub story was published.

Go Wes Young Man - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Our young ex-finance minister, Wes Sheridan, is gone. He quietly resigned this week and walked away.

However, before leaving he said the following, “I want to help my replacement Liberal candidate win the election, but I don’t want to do it while still on the taxpayers’ dime.”

How thoughtful is this guy? His achievements over his term in office will cement his place in history for all time. We Islanders will long into the future remember his financial feats and accomplishments. How he proudly introduced us to the Harmonized Sale Tax and left us with the largest debt in the Island’s history.

It is not enough to just say goodbye to Wes, I think we owe him much more. I propose we Islanders ask the new leader to not pay him the usual severance and pension. He deserves much more than a petty severance package and a meager pension.

I suggest in lieu of the above, we gift Wes with a large block of our Island shares in the amazing Geo Sweep — a genuine reward indeed.

F. Ben Rodgers, Abram Village

Well-known author American Frances Moore Lappe writes in Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet for March 2nd. Her essay flows, so I have printed it in its entirety.

Some background from Wikipedia:

Frances Moore Lappé (born February 10, 1944) is the author of 18 books including the three-million copy Diet for a Small Planet. She is the co-founder of three national organizations that explore the roots of hunger, poverty and environmental crises, as well as solutions now emerging worldwide through what she calls Living Democracy. Her most recent book is EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want.

I believe hope is a natural state of being for our species.

It arises in us from our deepest centre – as an expression of life loving life, of life wanting to bring forth more life. If we feel disheartened, discouraged or hopeless, it is unnatural. What’s needed for human beings to be in our natural state of hope is not proof of some future positive outcome; it is only that we see possibility for positive change and see our place in that change. And that depends on developing new eyes, new ways of seeing. Our culture tells us that the premise

of existence is lack: lack of goods – energy, food, water, you name it – and lack of goodness, for humans are innately selfish. From this premise of lack we distrust ourselves and see ourselves in eternal, fearful competition for survival.

Not trusting ourselves, we believe we're not capable of coming together in common problem-solving to end hunger or protect the environment or build peace. We turn our fate over to others and to a market that inexorably concentrates wealth – creating the very scarcity we so fear, no matter how much we produce!

Hope arises in us and for our planet when we break free of this premise, when we learn to “think like an ecosystem,” characterized by connection and continuous change. We see that, as we align with the laws of nature and with all we now know about human nature, there is more than enough for all to thrive. We see that we can align our societies with Nature so that, as we model ourselves on the ecosystem’s genius, every economic process feeds another in a continuous cycle.

With an “eco-mind,” we see life and our place in it as full of possibility. We realize that the only power we don’t have is whether to change the world. -- Frances Moore Lappe


And this reminds me of this wonderful quote that resurfaced late last week as people remembered actor Leonard Nimoy:

The miracle is this: The more we share, the more we have.

-- Leonard Nimoy

March 1, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Yesterday parts of the Island were buzzing with talk of The Globe and Mail story on P.E.I.'s "gamble" on internet gaming. A lot of head-shaking, and wonder how Premier Wade MacLauchlan will respond to it all.

A couple of related notes:

Teresa Wright wrote a two-part story on the issue for The Guardian on November 27 and 28th of 2014. The links are here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

It must be frustrating for her to hear people wonder why our local media never wrote about this. But the point is, now what? Will The Guardian do a story on the Globe and Mail story or further aspects?

A reminder that former Premier Robert Ghiz's chief of staff Chris LeClair resigned in 2011 and started a consulting firm called Policy Intel. You many remember that it was hired by the Potato Board (not sure who approached whom) to help "facilitate" meetings with MLAs about the "need" for high capacity wells for agriculture.,-Cavendish-Farms-lobbying-to-lift-deep-well-moratorium/1#

Meanwhile, at UPEI, the provincial Progressive Conservatives chose a leader with a preferential ballot system yesterday. It was a busy place!

A member just wrote the number 1, 2 or 3 in the box next to each candidate's name for each ballot, and there was only one round of voting. About 5:10PM, Rob Lantz was announced as leader. Congrats to Mr. Lantz for his victory, and to all for running hard-working and harmonious campaigns. I noticed after the winner was announced, the look on at least of the other other candidates' face was one of joy. Not relief at being saved (as was evident in the MLAs crowding together with Wade MacLauchlan when he announced he was running last last year), nor resentment; radiant at no regrets. At least that's what I interpreted. Now we look forward to helping inform them about issues affecting the Island, and hearing details of what they and the PC Party stand for.

Allan Rankin, former clerk of the executive council for Robert Ghiz's government, writes a weekly column for the Graphic publications.

This week he wrote about the money left over in Community Services' minister Valerie Docherty's account; most of us are all for government saving money, but not on the backs of those in need. Also, she had repeatedly in the past couple of years answered any criticism in the Legislature or media of not giving more to the struggling on P.E.I. with a counter-cry that she had no extra money to give.

An Arrow Through the Heart for Those Most in Need - The Eastern and West Prince Graphic article by Alan Rankin

Published Wednesday, February 25, 2015 in The Eastern and West Prince Graphic:

Election 2015 spending is underway.

Ministers are beginning to feather the bed with project grants and new program spending. Witness the unexpected announcement by Health Minister Doug Currie to fund a new hepatitis drug and pay for sex change surgery.

But this new spending is in stark contrast with the shocking and seemingly chronic under spending in the Department of Community Services.

Why did the Minister of Community Services, Valerie Docherty, not spend millions allocated to her department in 2013-2014, dollars budgeted for social assistance clients, children in care, and housing?

Did Minister Docherty actually believe her powerless clients, those individuals and families dependent upon government for food and shelter, clothing and child care didn’t need the money?

Her explanation is that fewer people required social assistance and thus the budget surplus.

This implies the assistance rates just a year ago were adequate.

We know they were not, and social assistance recipients are locked in a cycle of poverty and dependence.

Did you know the monthly food budget for a family of four on social assistance is $487, or about $4 per day for each person?

Try feeding your family a healthy diet on that meagre allowance.

But here is the tragedy in this story.

Minister Docherty could have proposed to Cabinet last year that the rates of financial assistance be significantly increased, and the money forecast to be unspent used for the purpose it was intended when the Legislature approved her budget.

You might expect this from a Liberal government serious about fighting poverty.

I believe the reason it didn’t happen also says a great deal about Minister Docherty’s own commitment to her department’s mission, as well as her personal strength within Cabinet.

Departmental operating budgets are hammered out each year in special Cabinet meetings. It’s a very competitive process and ministers are challenged to put forward their spending requirements effectively and come away with what they need.

But ministers also need to hold onto their budget allocation as the year unfolds, and if under spending is forecast, the status quo must be protected.

In other words, you spend it or you lose it.

Departmental surpluses that exist halfway through a budget year are low hanging fruit to Cabinet colleagues who, like predators, are more than ready to scoop up unspent monies for their own programs.

They can also become a target for a Minister of Finance looking to reduce the overall government deficit.

My guess is that Minister Docherty, when faced with under spending in her department made a decision not to change the rates of financial assistance, or otherwise enhance her existing programs, and then didn’t have the strength in Cabinet to protect her originally budgeted allocation.

Unlike stronger colleagues such as Health Minister Doug Currie, or Transportation Minister Robert Vessey, Docherty failed to defend the interests of those Islanders who most depended upon her.

Social assistance rates did increase last June as part of a five-year initiative, however these meagre CPI-tied increases are pathetically insufficient.

It was announced recently that the Archery Association of PEI has been awarded an unconditional grant for equipment and to upgrade its facility.

I know it’s specious and somewhat unfair to measure the validity of one government expenditure against another, and yet I really wonder how it is possible in a caring and socially responsible community that a grant is handed out for archery while $4 million of budgeted money intended for the poor and vulnerable goes unspent.

It is a shameful piece of business in my opinion, and metaphorically speaking an arrow through the heart of the Island poor.

Where indeed is that archer from Sherwood Forest who steals from the rich to give to the poor?

She certainly wasn’t to be found in the Ghiz Cabinet.

By the time you read this, Premier Wade MacLauchlan might already have appointed his new Cabinet, or re-appointed the old one, and the Liberal Party, under new leadership, will have begun to lay out its policy platform leading up to what looks like a spring election when, as Mr MacLauchlan says, the ground is dry.

We can only hope the poorest and least fortunate among us are not left out in this bold new vision, and that whoever Premier MacLauchlan tags as the Minister of Community Services possesses the conviction and strength to fight for their needs and rights.

And I failed to mention the deadline was approaching for public input on this year's provincial budget. It *was* Friday at 4PM, but perhaps if you send an e-mail or do the form, you can still squeeze in a suggestion or two, waiting on Monday morning :-)

Events today:

Bonshaw ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, many musical groups including Emerald Junction, admission by donation (proceeds go to Stephen Lewis Foundation)

Future of CBC Discussions with each Federal Party Leader, #2, with Green Party PEI leader Elizabeth May, 6-6:30PM our time, livestream. You can go here to register:

Today's Global Chorus is by Alexander Verkeet talks about the image of the intrepid Little Dutch Boy and the wider world in general:

"And let’s not forget the individual actions one

can take. That could be me on my bicycle, or it

could be your personal involvement by installing solar

panels on the roof of your house. My hope is for a worldwide

generation of Hans Brinkers that work together to stand together

to stand up to the challenges of climate

change, first by being unafraid to point their fingers

at causes of the problem, and second by being brave

enough to tackle them." -- Alexander Verbeek, Netherlands policy adviser