April 30, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Saturday means both the Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown(9AM-2PM) Farmers' Markets are open. As it is the last weekend of the month, the Farm Centre Farmers' Market is also open, 9AM-2PM.
NDP of PEI Annual Convention, 9AM onward, Summerside, Causeway Bay Hotel, 311 Market St., all welcome.
Sunday, May 1st:
Proportional Representation Rally with federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, 1PM, Victoria Playhouse, Victoria-by-the-Sea.
There are still some paying (general $20, or $30 if you wish to buy a sponsoring ticket) and several free tickets for students/seniors/unwaged still available
This article on alfalfa, which is grown as a very nutritious hay crop on P.E.I., and available in a "Roundup Ready" genetically modified form, is by Steven Sharratt and is in today's Guardian -- no web citation, but here is the text. Grab a paper to see the lovely photograph of the Mark and Sally Bernard and family.
Organic farmers oppose new GM strain - The Guardian article by Steve Sharratt
Published on Saturday, April 30th, 2016
The intention to plant a genetically modified strain of one of the most common crops on P.E.I. this spring has raised alarm bells in the growing organic sector.
Organic farmers and other allies are attempting to stop GM alfalfa from being planted by appealing to federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.
“I’m not trying to be an alarmist,’’ says Sally Bernard of Barnyard Organics near Kensington. “But this is the greatest of the Pandora’s Box of all the GMOs thus far, because the GM genes, once in the environment, simply cannot be controlled. “
That’s because it will be spread by pollinating bees and some say it will have a huge negative impact on organic certification on P.E.I.
“We are alarmed that GM alfalfa is been introduced this spring in eastern Canada,” says Morell area farmer Reg Phelan of the National Farmers’ Union. “The bees will be spreading this gene where ever they travel.”
Phelan said GM alfalfa could contaminate adjacent fields, deny organic certification, and ruin current markets such as Europe which bans GMO products. Japan and China have already said no to GM alfalfa hay.
The Green Party of Canada is also calling on MacAulay to take immediate action to stop any further release of genetically modified (GM) Alfalfa seed in Canada.
“We know that genetically modified Alfalfa will hurt farm income in Canada the same way it hurt U.S. farmers upon its release a few years ago,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May in a release.
A statement from the media relations desk of Agri-Food Canada said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada concluded Roundup Ready alfalfa is safe and authorized for use in 2014.
“The Minister of Agriculture’s….. role is to ensure that producers have a choice among the agricultural practices, technologies and products that are approved as safe and that offer them the most economic and environmental benefits.”
Barnyard Organics of Freetown says a moratorium should be placed on the issue until evidence is acquired.
“The question of contamination of GM pollen getting into the conventional or organic fields may also pose legal issues,’’ offers Phil Ferraro, manager of the ADAPT council. “A honey bee can carry pollen over a mile. There may be legal implications if one farmer loses a market for their crop due to contamination from a neighbours’ field.”
Ferraro said he’s no expert, but suggests farmers planting any GM crops need to seriously consider the risks versus the benefits.
“I see this as a real opportunity,” said Bernard. “As the only province with the potential to keep GM alfalfa out due to our physical border of water, we could become a new exporter of alfalfa?”
April 29, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A correction: the Green Party of PEI annual general meeting scheduled for Sunday at 2:30PM is at the Riverview Community Centre, at 718 Clyde River Road, in Clyde River (off the TCH in Clyde River, south of the highway). Map link from this Facebook event page.
From Josie Baker, about seed saving workshops next week:
Tuesday, May 3rd:
Community Seed Saving: Train the Trainer, 3-5PM, Voluntary Resource Centre (VRC), 81 Prince St.
Josie Baker of Cooper Institute and Kim Delaney of Hawthorn Farm, Palmerston Ontario- will offer a workshop for experienced vegetable gardeners who are interested in building knowledge of Seed Saving in communities across PEI. This workshop will go over how to give a basic presentation on seed saving to the community, and provide sample presentations and resources. A model presentation will also be given, and questions about seed saving will be answered. Those who participate in this session will be supported in co-presenting this information at a PEI Library or community event in the coming months. Pre-Registration is Required! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (902) 894-4573
Wednesday, May 4th:
Farmer-level Advanced Seed Training, 10AM - 4PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Ave.
This workshop is for experienced seed savers, homesteaders, and small farmers who are already doing some seed saving, and are interested in building their skills! Kim Delaney of Hawthorn Farm will do a day-long training on high-quality, farm-scale seed saving. In particular, there will be a focus on how to rejuvenate Open Pollinated varieties that have been degraded over time, and how to develop and adapt varieties to have the desirable, marketable qualities small farmers need. The goal of this project is to build islander's capacity to produce high quality, locally adapted seed for use on island farms. This workshop is FREE, but please bring a pot-luck lunch item to share - we have dishes, but no ability to heat things up. Label if it is Gluten Free or Vegetarian. Pre-Registration is Required! Email me: email@example.com or call (902) 894-4573
The P.E.I. Legislature sits today from 10AM-1PM. You can watch it here.
Yesterday afternoon the Opposition had their time later in the afternoon, and discussed Motion No. 47, "Urging the province to exempt all forms of home heating from the HST." Text is here.
Leader of the Opposition Jamie Fox (District 19: Borden-Kinkora) and Steven Myers (District 2: Georgetown-St. Peters) spoke to it. Often the MLAs talk on or off-topic during these times Motions are discussed, but many of the related issues yesterday afternoon were very interesting. The video is in the archives, and the transcript (Hansard) will be available soon. Fox rounded back on the topic a bit in the evening session when the Government bill were starting to discuss Bill No. 3 [An Act to Amend the Liquor Control Act (No.2)], which was unofficially nicknamed the "Booze on a Boat" bill; his point was there are many more important issues facing Islanders that a bit of tinkering to the Liquor Control Act (and as both a boat owner and former police officer, he could see many sides to the issue). He had mentioned many homes he visited while campaigning last year during the provincial election, and really getting a look firsthand at a range of conditions, and spoke about those.
April 28, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
It's a bit of a political weekend coming up.
Saturday, April 30th:
NDP PEI annual general meeting, starting at 9AM, Summerside, Causeway Bay Hotel, 311 Market Street.
More info: http://www.ndppei.ca/2016-convention/
Sunday, May 1st:
Elizabeth May Rally on Proportional Representation, 1PM, Victoria Playhouse, Victoria-by-the-Sea, fee $0 (students, unwaged), $20-general), some tickets still available.
Green Party annual general meeting, 2:30-5PM, Clyde River Community Centre. Facebook event details.
I think both political meetings are open to members (of course), have memberships for sale at the the door, and welcome interested people.
Back on Monday, at the Federation of PEI Municipalities, Provincial NDP Leader Mike Redmond also gave a short address, which is summarized here in the party's press release:
The NDP Leader urged all Municipalities to think globally when decisions are made in our communities. Decisions must be made with respect to the affects on our environment and the people across this Country and around the world. "All levels of governance have a major impact on our well being, we are Islanders and Canadians and as such must be leaders on the world stage", stated Redmond.
Decisions like filling in ditches in Charlottetown have cost the taxpayers 25 million dollars and have had a negative impact on the environment and the water supply. On the federal level Redmond was critical of the Liberal Governments sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, pointed to their abysmal human rights record and the war in Yemen, that has killed some 3000 people, 700 of whom were children.
"We have a social responsibility to create a sustainable future for all of our children, poverty, housing and the grave inequalities that exist are equally shared with all levels of government", concluded Redmond.
From biologist Rosemary Curley, published in yesterday's Guardian:
Film ‘The Messenger’ illustrates plight of birds - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Some of your readers may be aware of the film ‘The Messenger’ that portrays the plight of North American birds today.
Now we are getting our best chance to see it on a big screen when City Cinema shows it for four nights from April 29th until May 2nd. (http://citycinema.net/)
City Cinema nor a shareholder does not employ me. I am the person who asked City Cinema to bring in this film.
It is a look at some of the factors causing monstrous losses of our birds, including mortality on migration over lighted North America, climate change, and an apparent shortage of insects. Swallows, for instance, are in steep decline.
I urge everyone to see this film, which is a Canadian production with Canadian birds.
Many people share the hope that we can keep those birds.
President, Nature P.E.I.
City Cinema in Charlottetown's webpage for times and prices is here:
April 27, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Forum on PEI and the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), 7PM, Rodd's Charlottetown, all welcome.
The guest speakers are dairy farmer Randall Affleck, Islander and trade expert Scott Sinclair, and Meghan Sali from OpenMedia.ca
Island Nature Trust Talk, Wild Island Places to Explore, 7PM, free. Executive Director Megan Harris will be present. Kijiji event notic
Sunday, May 1st:
Elizabeth May Proportional Representation Rally, 1PM, Victoria Playhouse, tickets (free to $20)
The P.E.I. Legislature sits today in the Coles Building from 2-5PM today. You can watch from home on Eastlink or internet, here.
Yesterday, in addition Speaker Buck Watts discussing the concerns raised about his attending partisan events (which got media coverage), Question Period also contained some very good questions from Darlene Compton (District 4:Belfast-Murray River) about what appears to be a former MLA helping residents obtain employment by contacting government; and Brad Trivers (District 18: Rustico-Emerald) asking if government has a plan or a set number of communities to end up with after amalgamation. Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Robert Mitchell apparently had some notes to frame his responses, and said the MLA must be the one for "forced amalgamation" (which of course Trivers never said). Interrupting and heckling is not great form in the House, but admittedly, it certainly shed a different light through a thick haze of a response to have someone like District 1: Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie piping in as kind of a fact-checker.
The transcript of Question Period is always prepared promptly by the Legislative Assembly staff and yesterday's is here.
"The problems we face did not come down from the heavens. They are made by bad human decisions, and good human decisions can change them."
-- Bernie Sanders, United States Senator and Democratic presidential candidate
April 26, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The P.E.I. Legislature is open today from 2-5PM, and 7-9PM. I think (after all the Greetings and Question Period and such) the afternoon will have further examination of the budget (resuming with the Department of Education), and tonight is Opposition time, so perhaps they will address some motions of Opposition.
Motions introduced in this session are listed and linked on this page.
It looks like CBC has taken an idea from LeadNow and other places that illustrated the results of the Legislative Assembly with Lego blocks, and produced a little video showing what various electoral models could produce. Producer Kevin Yarr is going to be on Island Morning before 7AM (so hurry). The video is on the CBC website.
There will be lots of opportunity for various ways of describing electoral reform in the next few months!
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker has been called out of the country for a family emergency, but left his greetings to the PEI Federation of Municipalities to be delivered by Lynne Lund, Deputy Leader, yesterday. She was kind enough to share her remarks.
I am told by others there that these comments were above and beyond the usual "greetings" brought by others.
Welcome by Peter Bevan-Baker, delivered by Lynne Lund, PEI Federation of Municipalities, Monday, April 25th, 2016, St. Peters Hall.
When you sail into New York – admittedly something I have never done – you come face to face with the Statue of Liberty. It is a shame that they did not construct a sister monument right beside it, and call that one the Statue of Responsibility. For citizenship is equally about freedoms AND responsibilities. As we navigate the choppy waters of moving from the status quo of local government on PEI to whatever we create over the next number of years, I believe the process will only be truly successful if we mobilize the citizenry and spark their sense of responsibility.
Let me be blunt and say that the status quo is a mess and lacks consistency and coherence -- thus the status quo is not an option. My hope is that at the end of the process – 10 or 15 years from now, we will have a clear and consistent pattern of local governance from tip to tip on Prince Edward Island, and that, particularly in rural PEI, local citizens will step up and take responsibility for the protection and preservation of local communities and landscapes. We can’t have a two-tier system, and we need local municipalities to give every rural Islander a voice. I imagine incorporated areas stretching uninterrupted across the entire Island, and participation in local governance as akin to medicare – something mandatory, that we all “pay in” for the betterment of the whole. However, I want to emphasize t ha t it is absolutely critical the process that I foresee in getting us there be an entirely democratic one. Forced amalgamation, annexation or any other sort of coercive arrangement is simply unacceptable to me. Cannibalising our neighbours is not an established tradition on PEI, and neither is it a good way of creating community or fostering trust.
We have seen recently the unacceptable consequences of an absence of local governance, when in Millvale, Maritime Electric, in concert with the provincial government, were somehow able to commence work on a project with absolutely no communication or liason with people living in the neighbourhood. And in my own constituency, a mystery project in Hampton remains, as far as anyone in the community knows, a viable scheme – though none of us has ever seen a plan – which would have a profound impact on our neighbourhood. This vacuum of local involvement and authority is simply no longer acceptable.
I think I have some idea of the delicate dance that this administration is trying to encourage. The process will require a central vision, and the person calling the dance, and holding the microphone is government. But the various dance partners they are coaxing onto the dance floor are perhaps shy, perhaps distrustful and out of step at present, and nobody wants their toes trodden on.It will be a delicate process, but one that I have every confidence will ultimately be successful.
The dance is just starting, and I think it will go on for a while – I imagine this taking at least a decade. I hope that with the right leadership, Islanders in all areas – urban, rural, incorporated, unincorporated – will join hands and step together towards a better future.
April 25, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Here is a little more about the forum Wednesday on the Trans Pacific Partnership and P.E.I.:
Wednesday, April 27th:
Forum: Prince Edward Island and the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), 7PM, Rodds Charlottetown (Kent St. and Pownal), free.
What are likely affects on P.E.I. if Canada ratified the TPP? Presenting are dairy farmer and National Farmers' Union member Randall Affleck (and excellent speaker), and two speakers from away -- Scott Sinclair, from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Meghan Sali, a very knowledgeable young woman from OpenMedia.ca.
The Council of Canadians has a page on the TPP and why they are opposed to it.
If you can stop in to this forum, even for a little bit, it sounds like it will be illuminating and helpful for figuring out what can be done.
A strongly-worded, resonating letter, from Carlo Hengst of Summerside from Saturday's paper:
Pesticides linked to many illnesses - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Saturday, April 23rd, 2016
Every year this small Island is covered with increasingly large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Islanders are inundated with many serious health concerns, many of which have been connected through science, with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These illnesses include certain cancers, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, and many more.
Pesticides are harmless only in the eyes of the pesticide industry, and those connected to them because they make massive profits which enable them to reward supporters.
No such benefits for Islanders. We are expected to remain quiet while being exposed to these toxins year after year in the name of the almighty potato. I have never seen so many people suffering with health issues until I moved to this Island some years back.
This year, our Chief Public Health office released a study reassuring us that pesticides pose no public health risk; these conclusions drawn from a meta-analysis that came to exactly opposite conclusions. It seems that even this Island’s health department is silenced.
Our three levels of government really do not protect us, they fail us miserably. That’s why I am against pesticides in the fields and on my neighbour’s lawn.
If we do not speak out, then slowly but surely pesticides will make our children increasingly suffer with all kinds of sickness, and it surely will do us older folks in before our time. The correlation I observe and the overwhelming amount of science on this is proof enough for me.
Karl (Carlo) Hengst, Summerside
April 24, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Lynne Lund, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of P.E.I., was the fourth person on the Friday CBC Radio Island Morning Political Panel (in addition to publisher Paul MacNeill, PC supporter Dennis King, and Liberal support Mary Lynn Kane). Discussions were about the verdict in the Mike Duffy trial, and the tabled P.E.I. provincial budget. Very interesting 19 minutes!
And by the same Lynne Lund, an opinion piece of interest in the recent newspaper:
Electoral Reform: Islanders will do just fine in plebiscite - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 in The Guardian (link)
It’s so welcome to see government working collaboratively on hard issues.
The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal is an example of what happens when parties put aside political stripe and work together. I have been thoroughly impressed by the commitment of this group to get the process right. And despite The Guardian’s recent opinion piece to the contrary, they did indeed get it right.
They have recommended that the plebiscite question on reform should have five options, based on what Islanders in consultation have said that they would like to see. Islanders have contributed richly to this, and the committee would be remiss to ignore that.
It’s an exaggeration to say Islanders need to become fully versed in five electoral systems. They only need to be familiar with the principles of each system. And the break down here is simple. Two of the systems are proportional, and will give Islanders a government that reflects how people actually voted. Three will not.
Repeated elections have produced results that were not reflective of how people actually voted.
Most recently, 40 per cent of the vote earned one party 18 seats, while another party with 37 per cent of the vote earned less than half that number of seats — eight.
First Past The Post will continue to produce these types of skewed results, as will Preferential Voting and First Past The Post Plus Leaders.
There are two options on the ballot that are proportional, and would have given approximately 11 seats for 41 per cent of the vote, and 10 for 37 per cent of the vote. For people who are interested in results that reflect the vote, it’s worth comparing the two models that are proportional and voting for your first and second choices accordingly.
But that’s far from complicated, nor does it ensure the plebiscite will fail.
Quite to the contrary.
This is not a concept that we should assume Islanders will struggle with. There are more than 6 months ahead for an educational component to be rolled out, which there is expressed intent to do. Premier MacLauchlan has tasked the committee to make a recommendation for this process, and they have.
We’ve asked Islanders for their suggestions, and they’ve given them. Now let’s give them a genuine opportunity to be heard. I have no doubt that Islanders will do just fine.
Lynne Lund is Deputy Leader, Green Party of P.E.I.
Related to voting reform:
Sunday, May 1st:
Rally for Proportional Representation with Elizabeth May, 1PM, Victoria Playhouse, tickets required. Elizabeth May, leader of Green Party of Canada, is coming to P.E.I. next Sunday to attend a rally on proportional representation. Links to getting tickets and Facebook event details here.
Both the Island New Democrat Party and the Green Party of P.E.I. are having their AGMs next weekend (Saturday for the NDP, Sunday for the Greens -- more details tomorrow).
April 23, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
This morning, Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM).
Minister of Family and Human Services Tina Mundy (also MLA for District 22: Sumemrside-St.Eleanor's) made a terrific shout-out for local food in the P.E.I. Legislature yesterday: Connecting it with good tidings regarding Earth Day, she urged everyone to spend just a little bit of their food budget on their grocery day by going to a Farmers' Market.
"The big supermarkets won't miss (your money)," she said. "But it would mean the world to our farmers and our fishers here on Prince Edward Island." -- Tina Mundy
Just over 19 minutes into the video from yesterday.
Earth Week Family Expo, 1-4pm, Farm Centre., 420 University Ave. The talk on Bats has been cancelled, but there is still a discussion on climate action with some fantastic photos of the proposed Energy East area about 2PM, I think.
And a movie tonight:
Film: "Above All Else", 7PM, Farm Centre, admission by donation.
Presented by the PEI Sierra Club and Cinema Politica.
About the film:
An inspired story of how direct action activists take to the tree-tops and work with land owners to fight against the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Shot in the forests, pastures, and living rooms of rural East Texas, Above All Else follows David Daniel, a retired high-wire artist and circus performer, from the moment that he discovers survey stakes on his land, through years of activism and civic engagement, to four climatic days in September 2012, when Daniel made a final stand against the pipeline. Backed into a legal and financial corner, he rallies an eccentric group of neighbors and environmental activists to join him in a final act of brinkmanship: a tree top blockade of the controversial project. What begins as a stand against corporate bullying and property rights abuse would become a rallying cry for climate protesters nationwide.
Photographed in beautiful, cinematic HD by director/cinematographer John Fiege, an intimate portrait emerges of unforgettable characters and their East Texas home, interwoven with an exploration of how they were driven to drastic action—ordinary people transformed into political actors through circumstances not of their choosing.
Sunday, April 24th:
Bonshaw Monthly Ceilidh, 7PM, Bonshaw Hall. Admission by donation and proceeds go to the McKillop Centre for Social Justice.CBC Mainstreet political commentator Richard Raiswell on Monday, April 18th discussed the incongruity of P.E.I. being the home of GMO salmon eggs and Canada's pristine Food Island. Audio file from CBC on-line here
The Guardian presented a two-part opinion piece by a researcher at the Atlantic Veterinary College on the safety of GMO salmon, how it will feed the world, etc. This kind of writing is good practice for working for the industry.
There are concerns about the amount of water the proposed Aqua Bounty facility would use, and as far as anyone knows, the systems at AVC are not closed and therefore use a good bit of Charlottetown's (i.e., other watersheds') water.
Perhaps North Americans eat too much meat/fish anyway, and price often trumps food quality and the quality of the conditions in which the animals are raised. There is a First Nations' aquaculture business that has received notice for its philosophy on raising (non-GMO) Atlantic salmon sustainably in a land-based operation, the Kuterra group. Interesting to read about it.
April 22, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Earth Day!
illustration from the Dawn Bickett article below
Here is a history of Earth Day, first celebrated 46 years ago:
Earth Day Celebration and Electronics Round-up, noon - 1PM, Holland College Prince of Wales Campus (Kent Street Quadrangle). Posters, project displays, the bicycle that powers a smoothie maker, and electronics drop-off (11AM-1PM, and in Summerside at the Harbourfront Campus, I believe, too)
Earth Week Family Expo, 1-4PM, Farm Centre
While we challenge our politicians to act responsibly, thinking of the future planet we are leaving our children, it's also good to look at fairly easy personal deeds.
Seven Things You Can Do for the Planet This Earth Day - greenpeace.org blog by Dawn Bickett
by Dawn Bickett, April 22nd, 2016
(original article has illustrations and links)
1. Take action for the climate.
Last December, world leaders met at the Paris climate summit and created an agreement – which many will sign on Earth Day – marking the beginning of the end for fossil fuels. But this agreement alone is not enough to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. It’s up to all of us (world leaders included) to take more action to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and build a 100% renewable energy future.
2. Consume less.
Last year, people used 1.6Earths worth of natural resources. Our fascination with throwaway packaging and plastic is harming wildlife, the ocean and maybe even ourselves. This Earth Day, pledge to simply use less stuff!
3. Be a picky eater.
Our food system is broken. Industrial agriculture is polluting water, destroying habitat and harming our health. The livestock sector alone contributes to climate change at least as much as all trucks, cars and planes combined! But you can fight back, starting in your own kitchen. Make a personal commitment to help change our food system – from starting a garden, to eating less (or no) meat.
And if you (or your feline friend) eat tuna, check out these shopping guides (link in original article) to make sure the fish you buy isn’t connected to labour abuse or ocean destruction.
4. Stand with traditional forest communities.
Across the globe, Indigenous Peoples and forest communities are fighting deforestation that threatens their livelihoods. Add your voice in solidarity: Indonesia to Brazil.
5. Slow down fast fashion.
Every piece of clothing we buy has an impact on our planet well before it enters our closet. Throwaway fashion sucks up water, uses huge amounts chemicals and encourages waste. But you can break this cycle. How? As fashion designer Vivienne Westwood advised, "But less, choose well, make it last."
6. Get creative!
Art and activism go hand in hand. So make art that shows how you want the world to be! Already, over a thousand artists have contributed their own work to speak out against Arctic destruction.(Links to artwork in article.)
7. Believe in the power of people to make change.
In your city, in your neighbourhood, in your own life. This may be the most important lesson from the original Earth Day: Each of us has the power to make the world a little better.
April 21, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The PEI Legislature sits this afternoon 2-5PM and this evening, 7-9PM. The MLAs are looking through the Provincial budget, currently in the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, then moving on to Education, possibly. You can drop by the Coles Building or watch from across the street in the J. Angus MacLean building, on Eastlink TV or through the internet, here.
The situation with placement of new transmission lines in the Millvale area brings up a lot of questions about our power infrastructure, public consultation, and land use policies.
Tonight at 7PM at the New Glasgow Fire Hall is a meeting for the Millvale and area residents' committee to meet with Maritime Electric (ME) to figure out if an alternative route for new high voltage transmission lines and substation are possible.
Members of the public are welcome to attend.
from Sharon Labchuk, local resident, on a social media posting yesterday:
Three possible locations were identified as alternates for the substation. ME will tell us if any of them are feasible at this meeting.
Other locations can still be considered but ME is saying the substation can only be moved within about one kilometre of the proposed location on St. Mary's Road. ME's process is to first choose a substation location, and then figure out how the lines will get there. They insist new lines must go on road right-of-ways, as opposed to going cross-country in the past and away from people's homes. And because underground lines cost more (ME says 10X more, other sources say much less), they won't consider them.
It's all about the bottom line they say - to maximize profits for shareholders. ME hasn't neglected to toss in the argument that our refusal to suck it up for the common social good cannot be allowed to cause a rate increase for other Islanders. The divide and conquer routine.
Other thoughts to take into account:
Power lines best option along Millvale Road? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Wednesday, April 19th, 2016
We can reasonably criticize the provincial government and Maritime Electric for various decisions, but perhaps the plan to add power lines along the Millvale Road is the least environmentally destructive option. Yes, Maritime Electric should have informed residents in advance and has apologized for not doing so. But increased demand in that area of the province means that increased electrical infrastructure is necessary. If the lines are not placed along the Millvale Road, the alternative could be to cut a swath through exceptionally beautiful forest and heritage roads.
I empathize with long-term residents who could not have anticipated the influx of large new year-round and summer homes which has changed this once-pristine area and resulted in increased demand for electricity. I used to own 52 acres of woodland on the Trout River in Millvale. I sold the property to the provincial government so that it would be protected under the Natural Areas Protection Act, but I continue to be concerned about over-development in Millvale and North Granville.
For those who have recently built houses on the Millvale Road, protesting seems to be a “not in my back (or front) yard” phenomenon. The proposed lines are no different in voltage from those in the front or back yards of a great many P.E.I. residents.
Woodland birds, animals and plants have not created the increased demand for electricity; people have. Do the protests of Millvale Road residents warrant the destruction of acres of too-rare natural habitat?
Ellie Reddin, Cornwall
Lawson Drake was Dean of Science at UPEI from 1985 to 1991. He write for the April 21st Global Chorus entry:
"My abbreviated concept of reality is that we have given 'economic growth' priority over all else and that we regard our Earth and its resident species as source and servant of economic growth. We have lost the ethic of living with respect in Creation; we are no longer in awe of the intricate web relating ourselves to our fellow species and all species to the environment – the web we call 'ecology.' <snip>
<to change this> "We begin at the personal level. We encourage others by our example until, together, we come to understand that what we call the 'ecology' ranks higher than what we call the 'economy' – indeed, that without the former, the latter is doomed. Then we must convince our governments of this simple truth so that they will be moved to create local, national and global policies that put the brotherhood of humankind, respect for creation and the assurance of our future at the heart of all their dealings." -- Lawson Drake
April 20, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
There are many, many opinions about yesterday's announced provincial budget, but these two tweets from publisher Paul MacNeill (of PEICanada's Graphic news papers, and who worked with the Premier on the first Georgetown Conference), are very telling:
PEI elected MacLauchlan Liberals to be bold. The budget today is anything but. Boring. Predictable. #PEI#gutless#peipol
Budget 2016 is about protecting size of bureaucracy without asking do we need it #pei#liberalspin#70percentnonsolution
Yesterday's Guardian featured two letters in response to Saturday's editorial about the report of the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal. One was a bit garbled,
and is on-line, but Anna Keenan wrote a very positive one. That one isn't on-line that I could find, so here is a screenshot (apologies for the bit of blurriness):
From The Guardian, Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
Earth Day details
There are many events going on Friday, which is Earth Day; but Saturday also:
Saturday, April 23rd:
Earth Week Family Expo event, 1-4PM
Booths, music, food, science activities and workshops. Seed-planting, art activities and a reading tent for kids.
Workshops on bats, and on climate action and the Energy East pipeline, with photographer Robert van Waarden.
The information booths are a mix of as you could guess environmental and nature groups, some businesses, and one that should be informative will be that of the PEI Energy Strategy.
from the organizers:
"We invite everyone to come share positive energy and learn about lifestyle changes and technologies that can lead to a 'greener' PEI."
And Mark your calendar, please:
Wednesday, April 27th:
Forum: P.E.I. and the TPP (Trans Pacific Partership Trade Agreement), 7PM, Rodd Charlottetown, free.
Trade Justice PEI is hosting a public forum on the Trans Pacific Partnership on Wednesday, April 27th, 7:00 p.m. at the Rodd Charlottetown Hotel.
The TPP is a “trade” agreement between Canada and 11 Pacific Rim countries, including the United States. The forum will feature three speakers who will look at different aspects of the TPP, and how it could affect people and communities of Prince Edward Island.
Scott Sinclair, Trade Researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives will talk about Environment, Healthcare and Democracy.
Meghan Sali, a Digitial Rights Specialist with OpenMedia BC, will talk about Internet Freedom, Internet Access & Privacy
Randall Affleck, PEI Dairy Farmer and member of the National Farmers’ Union, will talk about Supply Management and Agricultural Issues.
There will be plenty of time for interaction and discussion after the presentations. Everybody Welcome!!
Sponsored by Trade Justice PEI
For more information contact Maureen at 902-628-4878 or Rosalind at firstname.lastname@example.org
April 19, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today the P.E.I. Legislature begins its third week for this Spring Sitting (2-5PM and 7-9PM, watch it here). Presumably, the Provincial Operating Budget will be tabled today, after greetings, Question Period, Minister's Statements and such (including any last Responses to the Speech from the Throne). The Guardian reports that by 3:30PM Tuesday, they should have lots of budget news.
Last week in Question Period, the Opposition tagged the not-so-transparent loan details from a few years ago to businessman Richard Homburg as the catchy "Homburg Heist" and tried to pinpoint details with current Cabinet ministers who pointed out that was a previous government. Technically, that's true. But several faces look familiar.
They also questioned the business relationship between Mr. Homburg and the Premier when the latter was President of UPEI (1999-2011). The Premier said, without skipping a beat between paragraphs:
"Mr. Speaker, the Senate of the university awarded Mr. Homburg an honourary degree in 2007 along with three others who were honoured that day, and over the time that I was president at UPEI we would have awarded on the order of almost 50 honourary degrees.
"During that time, I'll say, and I'm proud to say, that UPEI would have raised upwards of $50 million from donors who support the university, and I did my best to be on good terms with all of them and I think the results prove it.<snip>"
That reminds me of the Doonesbury cartoon from long ago (and posted here about two years ago), when businessman Robert Irving was granted an honourary degree (sorry for the small print):
Even more of an elbow's dig since posted here in May of 2014,, given the release of the Panama Papers and of the revelation that the company involved in the e-gaming proposal was offered information on setting up an off-shore company to avoid paying Canadian taxes (old Guardian story here).
Besides Opposition questions about taxes and loans, Kellys Cross-Cumberland MLA and Third Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker asked about emergency safety concerns at the Aqua Bounty facility (which produces GMO salmon eggs) in Bay Fortune and the applied-for expansion at Rollo Bay. Friday, this was augmented by questions about the laxity of the EIA process, especially in being transparent. Brad Trivers (District 18: Rustico-Emerald) brought this point up about what's happening in the Millvale area with residents not being aware of Maritime Electric's plans, though the company had received all the necessary permits from the Environment Department. Minister Robert Mitchell of Communities, Land and Environment said the information is all there on the website.
Regarding transparency, everyone is basically right, and everyone is a little wrong. Some comments: It is all there but you have to have computer access and a lot of time to sift through things. Some stuff is not very orderly. There is no way to ask for notifications about EIA postings. There is no calendar of comment periods on the government website. These are all improvements the Department could make if they are willing to listen to website users' criticisms and really make their materials easy to access.
This week there were Speech from the Throne responses; some quite long and full of praise -- responses from the Minister of Finance (Allen Roach), the Minister of Education (Doug Currie), and the Premier (Friday). Some were very short and critical (Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward), and some examined the same ideas through a different lens (Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker). Bevan-Baker's was very thoughtful and worth reading, and he helpfully posted it on his website, here.
The most emotionally-charged issue of the week was Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward leading the debate on the Opposition Motion (No. 27) calling for a provincial child advocate, a separate and arm's length position. Government deflected it, saying their hub model was working, that they are considering adding a child's lawyer to the public service. Both Opposition parties disagreed that it was working, some citing comments from families.
Motion No. 27, "Addressing the Need for Child Advocacy Services in Prince Edward Island", is found through this page. It was defeated, without any sort of comments from government that it would consider re-evaluating its system and considering other ideas.
Events this week:
Some watershed groups are having their annual general meetings:
Wednesday, April 20th
Wheatley River Improvement Group AGM, 7PM, Cymbria Lions Club, 2184 Church Road, South Rustico.
We will have two guest speakers this year: Catherine O'Brien, chair of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, and Sean Landsman, nature photographer and PhD Candidate at UPEI. Catherine will share the Coalition's presentation to the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) regarding the Water Act and open up a discussion regarding the priorities that should be included in the act. Sean will be giving a talk titled Smelt Passage in PEI Rivers with Special Attention to the Wheatley River.
A short business AGM will follow and refreshments will be served. We'd love to have you join us for an evening of camaraderie and discussion. For those who are interested in supporting the Wheatley River Improvement Group, family/individual memberships are only $10.00 and can be purchased at the AGM. If you'd like more information, feel free to contact Kayla@wheatleyriver.ca.
Thursday, April 21st
South Shore Watershed Association AGM, 7PM, Crapaud Hall, Crapaud.
Another welcoming watershed group invites all interested residents and others to their AGM this week. More http://www.sswa.ca/calendar-2/
Saturday, April 23rd
Earth Day Expo, 1-4PM, Farm Centre. Free. More details tomorrow. Always lots to see and do.
April 18, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
This morning, MLA Jordan Brown is scheduled to be on CBC Radio somewhere in the 7:30 to 8AM time slot to talk about electoral reform, the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal's report, and the plebiscite on electoral system change set for Fall. Here is a quick summary from the announcement in Friday's Legislative Assembly:
1) The question will be a ranked question with five electoral system choices (including the current system)
Voters can rank all five or any number they want to.
2) The systems will be listed in alphabetical order
DMP (Dual Member Proportional Representation)
FPTP (current system) (First Past the Post)
FPTP Plus (Leaders get their seats)
MMP (Mixed Member Proportional Representation)
3) For Leaders of Parties (in FPTP Plus, a Party must get 10% of the vote)
4) Mixed Member Proportional will be an Open List and the fractional component will be one third top-up seats
5) Electronic voting in plebiscite will be allowed
It does appear that 16 year old and older Islanders will be able to vote.
The Question and materials must be Clear, clear clear, they emphasized.
This is a wonderful opportunity for Islanders.
Sunday, May 1st ("May Day"), the Green Party of P.E.I. is hosting Elizabeth May. She was here last year on May 1st during the provincial election. (Saturday, April 30th, is the Green Party of PEI's annual general meeting -- more details later.)
There will be a rally regarding proportional representation, on Sunday, in Victoria-by-the-Sea at Victoria Playhouse. From the announcement:
The Green Party of PEI welcomes Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Gulf Saanich Islands to Prince Edward Island for a Rally on Sunday, May 1, 2016!
Elizabeth May will speak on Proportional Representation, specifically on how PEI can lead the Nation.
Elizabeth has been named by her peers as the Best Orator in the House and her visit is not to be missed.
Doors open at 12:30 - Rally begins at 1:00 - Tickets are required - General Seating only!
More information and tickets are available here:
The list price is $20 but there are many tickets set aside free for students and those who would find the admission cost a hardship.
Movie: First People, First Screens, 7PM, St. Paul's Church Hall, 101 Prince St., admission by donation.
Join Cinema Politica Charlottetown and Cooper Institute for the second event in the film series "First Peoples, First Screens" on Monday, April 18, 7 p.m. at St Paul's Church Hall, 101 Prince St, Charlottetown. Eliza Knockwood, Mi'kmaq filmmaker from Abegweit First Nation will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.
In a 1948 clandestine operation, 100 Mushuau Innu - an indigenous hunting people of Northern Labrador, Canada - were ordered into the cargo hold of a ship and transported far beyond their lands. To this day, the events remain shrouded in mystery. - A ship, piercing winds, the death of a young man and insurmountable mountains. - All are recurring fragments, parts of a jigsaw puzzle with many missing pieces. Though only a short two-year period, the move to Nutak was an omen for what was to follow. It marked the first attempt of the Canadian government to settle the nomadic Mushuau Innu.
Also shown at this event - Blocus 138 - Innu Resistance, documenting the events of March 9th, 2012, during the road block of the 138, and describes, with exactitude, the action and emotion of the moment.
Admission by donation - everyone welcome!
April 17, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A week ago, at the Federal Convention of the New Democratic Party, the delegates agreed to let riding asociations discuss The Leap Manifesto. A tumult followed, in a weekend full of news.
Right away, most media articles and editorials focused on a few words of the "so-called" Manifesto, saying it would immediately prohibit the use of fossil fuels, throw Albertans out of work, would reject all trade agreements, etc. Our local Guardian's editorial from Tuesday followed this superficial but reactionary pattern.
Fortunately, the folks behind Leap -- Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis, David Suzuki, to name a few -- kept their heads and started communicating soon after.
Klein and Lewis did a Facebook live chat on Tuesday, found here
(it may not work for you if you are not on Facebook, but it was a great way for them to reach a lot of people quickly and easily.)
One line Avi Lewis said that stuck with me, is that the Leap Manifesto is: "not a party's agenda, it is a human agenda".
Several positive, informative articles have came out. Here are the titles and links, and excerpts, from a few of them:
Sorry, Pundits of Canada, The Leap Will Bring Us Together - The Globe and Mail article by Avi Lewis
Published Thursday, April 14th, 2016
In the past week, I’ve been called a “downtown Toronto political dilettante,” and “a millstone around the neck” of Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley. The Leap Manifesto, which I helped write and launch with dozens of others from across the country, has been called “ungenerous, short-sighted and…a betrayal of the people who voted NDP” in Alberta.
And that was just from people I consider friends. <snip>
My Advice to NDP: Look Before You Leap. Then Leap - TheTyee article by Crawford Kilian
And don't let Canada's punditariat restrict or stifle your debate.
Published Thursday, April 14th, 2016
Very good read.
Dear Leap Manifesto Critics: There Will Be No Jobs on a Dead Planet - The National Observer article by Gary Ender
Published Thursday, April 14th, 2016, in The National Observer
also does a good job explaining where we are.
Pipelines or pipedreams? The Leap Manifesto and Alberta's dilemma - The Council of Canadians blog by Christopher Majka
By Christopher Majka, Friday, April 15th, 2016, rabble.co blogs
The last four decades of no-holes-barred neoliberalism are bearing their bitter fruit. Did anyone actually imagine that a generation of austerity, of neglect of every kind of social, cultural, and physical infrastructure, of pillaging of resources, of failing to respect the most fundamental of planetary ecological laws, of outsourcing, transparently tilted playing fields, tax havens -- that all of these would bear no consequences? And now, can anyone imagine that these do not require a massive revision of how we conduct ourselves individually and collectively? <snip>
This one is long but *very* worth reading.
Earlier this month, I copied in its entirety, the essay from the April 8th entry in Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of our Planet (edited by Islander Todd E. MacLean); it is the one from Harriet Shugarman, the "Climate Mama". I have a note that she wrote this in 2008. Here is a snippet of it:
"We must acknowledge and recognize that there is no bridge to a carbon-free future. We need to step bravely into the abyss, trust in science and the evidence and make the leap to a renewable-energy future, through our actions now – individual and collective. This will put people to work, grow the economy and begin to heal our planet." -- Harriet Shugarman
April 16, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Yesterday the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal tabled its report to this session of the P.E.I. Legislature. As you may have heard, the committee recommends the ballot have five options, which voters would rank. Of course, five options seem a bit clunky, but it *can* work. The Guardian has already weighed in this morning with a peevish editorial predicting failure of a plebiscite. That may be a bit premature, but at least they spelled the options correctly in the editorial. The paper's on-line story on the report still has members apparently having to "duel" versus being in "dual" ridings. I suppose duels might get more people engaged in their elected officials.
More to come, I am sure, as the MLAs decided to wait to discuss it until later in the session, when they've had a chance to read the report.
The report is here: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/sittings/2016spring/reports/23_1_2016-15-04-report.pdf
Today is the last day to send in any comments about the AquaBounty application to expand to Rollo Bay for a fish-rearing facility.
Major concerns are the amount of water from the *existing* wells on the property -- 1,300 gallons per minute -- and the vague mention that this is likely not enough and more wells will be needed.
It's apparent the water extraction alters (as in, decreases) the baseflow of the Rollo Bay Stream (as there is less groundwater feeding it); the proposed solution is to pump and dump the filtered effluent into the stream about 300 metres upstream. That doesn't exactly fix the extraction problem.
All comments on the environmental impact of this project are encouraged as today is the last day to comment; see this page for details on the project, and contact e-mail info:
and Environmental Impact Assessment officer Dale Thompson is at email@example.com
Today both Charlottetown and Summerside Farmers' Markets are open.
This afternoon, 3-6PM, kind of in between, is a "Seedy Saturday" event in Breadalbane, at the public library. From the organizers:
The people of Breadalbane are looking forward to hosting another seedy Saturday event scheduled on April 16th from 3-6 PM at the Breadalbane library (4023 Dixon Road). Just in time for Spring! Don't let leftover seeds go to waste - they won't stay good forever so why not trade them for ones you will use? You are invited to bring your spare seeds (either left over purchases from last year or seeds you gathered from your own garden) to donate to our seed bank. (veggies, herbs, flowers, trees - any and all seeds are welcomed). You can either trade your seeds for ones you need from the seed bank, or purchase what you need for only 25 cents a packet. We have a wide variety of seed to choose from; hundreds of packs, from beans to zucchini! The 25 cents goes towards the purchase of envelopes and other seed library supplies. Everyone welcome! Drop in for a cuppa tea, stay around and browse the library - or take in Marianne's core strength exercise class from 4 to 5. We will have envelopes, pens etc so that volunteers can put bulk seeds into packets for other seed bank clients. Lets get growing. See you there!
April 15, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Fisherman's Breakfast is finishing up this morning until about 11AM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road, off the TCH. All welcome, fee charged.
Tomorrow, Saturday, April 16th:
Breadalbane Seedy Saturday, 3-6PM, Breadalbane Library, 4023 Dixon Road, Breadalbane.
Bring leftover seeds to share, and donate to the seed bank.
There are similarities between the two issues of Maritime Electric's expansion of high voltage lines and the Environmental Impact Assessment process for the Aqua Bounty expansion in Rollo Bay, as far as how hard it is for Islanders to find out what is actually being planned. Much of the information is out there, on-line somewhere, but certainly not easily or perhaps logically accessible.
MLA (District 18: Rustico-Emerald) Brad Trivers dug up the Maritime Electric budget submitted to IRAC last summer, (which he shared on social media yesterday) and installing new lines in the general area is in there.
And there was an ad for public consultation on the Aqua Bounty expansion facility planned for Rollo Bay, which was small and boring, and apparently only a few people showed up.
Screenshot from Guardian April 2nd, 2016, with ad for public meeting on Aqua Bounty expansion:
EIA public meeting ad indicated by arrow.
(comment period closes tomorrow, April 16th, info from the Environmental Impact Assessment site here)
Also regarding the High Voltage Transmission Lines, a petition from residents is being tabled (by the area's MLA Brad Trivers) in the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly this morning, which sits from 10AM to 1PM, at the Coles Building. There may also be some questions about the Aqua Bounty plan, since the deadline for the comment period is approaching -- see just above for information.
the day goes like this (once the public is invited into the Gallery):
- Matters of privilege and recognition of guests
- Statements by members
- Questions by members, starting with ministerial responses to questions taken as notice ("Question Period")
- Statements by ministers
- Presenting and receiving petitions
- Tabling of documents, including responses to written questions
- Reports by committees
- Introduction of government bills
(then government motions and the "Orders of the Day")
So my guess it the petition will be tabled about 11:15AM or so; Trivers may talk about it earlier in the Statement by Members section, or refer to the situation in Question Period, but there may not be any discussion about it when it's tabled -- it's just kind of recorded as being submitted. ( I may not be accurate on the protocol.)
It's often very interesting listening to what's actually being proposed and discussed by our government representatives.
You can watch from the Legislative Assembly website, starting here.
Another Jimmy Carter quote, but quite fitting:
"It is difficult for the common good to prevail against the intense concentration of those who have a special interest, especially if the decisions are made behind locked door." -- former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
Or even obscure, out-of-the-way doors.
April 14, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
It's easy to be on a government's list to get press releases e-mailed to you.
You will get very chipper announcements, often right after they are announced in the P.E.I. Legislature.
Finding out about certain other government news like comment periods requires a bit more digging, and not everyone has the time to do that. Until we can get government to improve the organization of some websites' materials, and make it easier to hear about deadlines, we often hear about issues and communication opportunities from each other.
Leo Broderick from the Council of Canadians wrote about the ongoing Environmental Impact Assessment process for expansion of the Aquabounty facility in Rollo Bay. Aside from the issue about the genetically modified salmon eggs that are produced there, aside from the concerns about accidental release of any organisms (discussed by Peter Bevan-Baker in the Provincial Legislature earlier this week and recapped in this CBC article), and aside from the fairly heavy environmental footprint of eating farmed salmon anyway, one major issue is about the groundwater which would be used used up by this facility, and the discharge water produced and released.
From Leo Broderick's letter to Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water members:
Aquabounty wants to set up an additional site for the production of frankenfish in Rollo Bay on route 2 in an abandoned aquaculture facility. There are many serious problems with Aquabounty’s request. The least of which is its plan for the use of PEI’s groundwater. The location already has four deepwater wells, an artesian well and a domestic well. The site was licensed to pump 6,251 liters of groundwater per minute. According to Aquabounty that amount is insufficient for its needs and so it must ask the PEI government to approve an even larger extraction.
One of the reasons Aquabounty states it needs to move to Rollo Bay is that its Bay Fortune operation may run out of groundwater if it adds to that location (It's right next to Michael Smith's Inn). At the Bay Fortune site there is a small stream 24 hours a day emptying everything from (the Aquabounty facility) into Bay Fortune. Now Rollo Bay will be faced with the same situation.
Aquabounty must not be allowed to waste PEI’s groundwater - our only source of drinking water. Aside from the issue of GE salmon, the site if licensed should be made to be a self-contained facility - reuse the water and don't dump waste into nearby stream. Use waste for fertilizer etc.
Peter Bevan-Baker has already raised the issue in the legislature and will do more.
The site below will give you the info and will lead you to the environmental assessment that has been done - which is flawed in a number of areas.
Comments to the PEI gov't can be made until Saturday, April 16th. The Council of Canadians will be submitting comments but it would be great if other groups did as well.
Demand public hearings. (Below) is a picture of the little river flowing from the Bay Fortune plant - 24 hours a day. What a waste!
Environmental Impact Assessment site with contact info:
Leo's photo of stream of discharge from the Bay Fortune plant.
April 13, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Lunchtime presentation: "Giving Wings to Wildlife: Wildlife Care at AVC", by naturalist Fiep de Bie, 12:30PM, UPEI at the Atlantic Vet College, Lecture Theatre A, Free, all welcome.
To celebrate National Wildlife Week, there will be this presentation, a visit from a falconer and two raptors, fundraisers like a raffle (tickets available before the presentation), cupcakes and other items for sale. Proceeds go towards renovations to the outdoor flight cage.
Fiep has a wonderful speaking style and is an accomplished photographer, too, so the slides will be gorgeous!
Food Security Network Annual General Meeting, 3PM, Farm Centre, 420 Univeristy Ave., all welcome.
Presentations on growing food and on gathering and documenting many of the food initiatives on the Island.
Here is an article on one of the presentations which is happening this afternoon:
A comment on social media in response to a news story about the lose of aerospace jobs in Summerside which was discussed in the P.E.I. Legislature yesterday.
"High-flying jobs make great press but healthy food people can trust year after year is always in demand. We could start by producing more of what we eat and stop sending so much of our money out of the province and the country. Our food freezes just like the stuff from other continents lining the freezers of the multinational marketing giants. It's time to realize the potential of local cooperatives, the talent available right here at home and the importance of food to a healthy population and economy."
The McCain plant -- with freezer capacity, I believe -- still sits empty in nearby Borden-Carleton.
Islander and environmentalist Colin Jeffrey passed on this link for an 11-minute video on the actual costs of agricultural chemicals on human health, from the Sustainable Food Trust, an American-based organization providing information and collaboration on transitioning agriculture to more sustainable practices. The presentation is by environmental scientist Dr. Pete Myers, and is called "Internalizing the Externalized Public Health Costs of Industrial Agriculture", and it's sobering without being fear-mongering.
From The Sustainable Food Trust's founder, Patrick Holden:
"If we are to transform our food systems so that the maximum amount of people can eat nutritious food produced in the right ways, we need to work together, share ideas, pool resources and connect as part of a global food movement. Every voice counts."
Lots of interesting information on their website:
April 12, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
I was a very harsh critic of MLA Janice Sherry (District 21: Summerside-Wilmot) when she was Environment Minister, and with the Plan B highway decisions, it was often justified. It is not justified, however, for The Guardian to headline an article by Nigel Armstrong with the quote "Put them to work" in yesterday's paper. The article references a question she asked in Thursday's Question Period in the Legislative Assembly about possibly copying a Nova Scotia program for social assistance recipients to be able to earn extra money working in agricultural jobs. There was no Marie Antoinette "Let them eat cake" or Scrooge "Are there no workhouse?" rhetoric. She was encouraging and trying to find solutions. Perhaps the newspaper's editorial board should "Jeer" themselves next week in their rather feeble Monday editorial "Cheers and Jeers" for attaching words she never said.
She never said this. Guardian screenshot from yesterday's Guardian.
Guardian article on-line:
Hansard transcript from Thursday, April 7th, 2016 (page 72):
Tonight, Tuesday, April 12th:
Big Band Tuesday, 7PM and later, Pourhouse, above Olde Triangle, corner of Great George and Fitzroy, admission $10 ($5 students) with proceeds to Colonel Gray Senior Jazz Band.
"The Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble continues its winter-long 'Big Band Tuesday' series at the Pourhouse with a very special guest…another big band! (The) Colonel Gray Senior Jazz Band will kick off the evening with a selection of tunes before the Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble takes to the stage."
And of course, tonight is the meeting on the proposed transmission lines in the Millvale area:
Public meeting with Maritime Electric representatives, 7PM, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.
It sounds like the format is very unscripted -- the Maritime Electric representatives will answers questions already submitted and people can just ask questions from the floor (there will be no formal presentation, first). If you can't make it and want to sign the on-line petition, do so here:
There are two short videos done by a photographer who lives in the area, but I think the videos are only accessible by Facebook; the postings may be a public setting so anyone can see them (you will have to scroll down to find them).
In one, local MLA, Brad Trivers (District 18:Rustico-Emerald) has been there since the residents found out anything, and speaks clearly about the government's lack of transparency and communication with Islanders, and a lack of vision regarding energy production and distribution. There is an energy strategy in the report-writing phase, but he argues no projects like these transmissions lines should be proposed until a comprehensive energy strategy is in place.
The second is with Shauna Reddin, who while attending to the needs of her young child, describes finding out her family's newly built dream house is right next to proposed towers. Anyone who's been through Plan B, or the Tracadie landfill site, etc. etc. knows the stomach-dropping feeling she conveys.
Here is an example of one of the many excellent letters and opinion pieces in The Guardian:
Maritime Electric Makes Careless Decision on Transmission Line
published on Monday, April 11th, 2016, in The Guardian
by Kevin and Stephanie Smith
We are writing in regards to the story titled “Millvale residents urge alternative route for power transmission lines” published in The Guardian on April 4, 2016.
We are outraged by this careless decision made by Maritime Electric to install high voltage power transmission lines and a substation in the heart of P.E.I., our home. We are outraged that they think it’s OK to gamble with our health, most importantly, our children’s health. We are outraged that our government would support and give permission for Maritime Electric’s planned route and substation location.
Did they even look at the plans? Do they really think it’s safe to install these power poles with very high voltage transmission lines so close to homes? Most of all, we are outraged that we, the residents whose lives will be immensely affected by this, were not consulted or even notified prior to a decision being made.
There have been many studies that prove prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields and air pollutants from overhead high voltage transmission lines are linked to many very serious health conditions. Just to name a few …. various cancers, leukemia, tumor growth, skin growths, abnormal cell activity, sleep disturbances, memory problems, genetic defects, hormone regulation and production, immune system problems and nervous system disorders. Birth defects, miscarriages, and fetal development problems. It is unacceptable that they think it’s OKAY for us to be exposed to such risk.
We moved our family from the city to this beautiful countryside in 2009. Our dream is for our children to live a free, healthy, adventurous life. If these high voltage transmission lines and new substation are installed a few yards away from our safe haven, our dreams will be crushed. We chose this location for its tranquility, its tight knit community, its beauty and most of all its safety.
We feel that Maritime Electric is ripping our choice out from under our feet. When we look out our second story kitchen window, we see the beautiful rolling hardwood forest hills of Millvale Rd. We chose this view for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. To install unsightly high voltage transmission lines and poles amongst these beautiful heritage roads, is disgraceful and it will considerably decrease our property value.
Maritime Electric, we ask that you please consider an alternate route for your project, which has no benefit for our little community. We understand that this project is necessary, but it’s not necessary for this to happen in our backyard. Let’s all work together and find a route that is safe and has less impact on our lives, our children, our wildlife, and our first class scenery. Put yourselves in our shoes. How would you feel if this was happening in your backyard?
Kevin and Stephanie Smith have been residents of St. Marys Rd. since 2009.
April 11, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The self-described "truly insufferably buoyant" Stephen Lewis, former leader of the Ontario and United Nation representative, spoke earlier this weekend at the NDP Convention. Whenever he speaks about, he effortlessly strings together the most visual words, to describe anything and everything things; and his delivery is magnificent.
He compares the NDP to the Liberal government in their fundamentals. This is, of course, very partisan, but a good primer.
And after hearing the surprising (to me) news that the NDP voted for a leadership review, they also voted to explore the merits of the Leap Manifesto.
The charity-fundraising organization CanadaHelps highlights groups in their program, and here is an article on ECO-PEI and Macphail Woods:
One sign of spring is the first Owl Prowl at Macphail Woods.
The first owl prowl of the season is Saturday, April 16th, and here are some details:
Come celebrate the wonderful world of owls at one of three Owl Prowls at the Macphail Homestead in Orwell on April 16, 22 and 23. The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation will open up the Great Room of the Homestead at 6:30pm and serve light refreshments. Visitors can warm themselves by the fireplace and enjoy the historic beauty that surrounds them. There will be no cost but donations to the Foundation will be gratefully accepted.
Then at 7:30pm, the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project is holding its first Owl Prowl of the season at the Nature Centre. There will be a second owl prowl held on Earth Day, April 22nd, and a third on April 23rd, but visitors are asked to only attend one of these events.
This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about a fascinating family of rarely-seen birds. From the tiny “saw whet” to the large “great horned”, owls have long been birds of mythology and misinformation. The workshop will separate fact from fiction, combining a slide show with an outdoor walk.
The talk starts with slides and taped calls of common and uncommon owls that can be seen on Prince Edward Island. There are also mounted displays of most of these birds as well as other educational material on owls and their habits.
Participants can then take a guided walk around the woods and try calling in owls. Make sure to bring clothes suitable to weather conditions. There is no admission for the workshop and everyone is welcome. This is a very popular event and visitors are advised to come early.
This owl prowl kicks off an extensive series of outdoor activities at Macphail Woods, a project of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island. For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please contact Gary Schneider at 651-2575, visit the website (www.macphailwoods.org) or find us on Facebook.
April 10, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The link to P.E.I. Community Supported Agriculture options available this year was incomplete; the correct one is here:
There are some events of interest happening this week:
Tuesday, April 12th:
Public meeting with Maritime Electric Company Ltd. on their Millvale area plans for transmission towers and substation, 7PM, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, Rte. 258 in New Glasgow. While technically, this is for affected residents, in essence we are all affected residents.
Local MLA Brad Trivers (District 18: Rustico-Emerald) wrote on social media: "I agree that the problem is with government - being open and transparent, and not having or communicating a clear energy plan. The first step in the Tue meeting should be to explain exactly the purpose of the project, how it fits into the bigger picture, and what the bigger picture is."
Others have chimed in that any project like this should certainly be on hold until the province has its Energy Strategy in place.
There apparently is a by-invitation-only meeting Tuesday and public ones later while the Dunsky company completes the strategy paper. Here is the preliminary paper that was just released late last week:
Some criticisms (of this Background Position Paper on a P.E.I. Energy Strategy, a document of about 49 presentation slides) that were passed to me, and that you may find if you have a chance to review it, include:
It calls sales of electric cars sluggish on PEI without noting that the dealers don't even stock them but noting a dozen slides later that we have no incentives for them.
Biomass is listed as part of a solution and there are some real issues with calling wood biomass in any way sustainable here
Many of there assumptions on the cost of payback of Solar are not accurate
and two slides (number 6 and 7) are duplicates
Wednesday, April 13th:
P.E.I. Food Security Network AGM, 3PM, Farm Centre, free and all welcome. Not only will there be nutritious and tasty refreshments, I am sure, but there will be a lot of good information and two presentations from their website: https://peifoodsecurity.wordpress.com/
Growing Food Sovereignty: Across the Island, farmers have developed many successful alternatives to PEI’s predominant industrial model of agriculture. New and established farmers are growing organically, producing open-pollinated seed, developing local distribution systems and are farming in ways that are good for the land, the soil, the water and the community. Lorna McMaster, Soleil Hutchinson, Travis Cummiskey and Shawn Loo will talk about what they are doing and how their efforts promote food sovereignty. There will be a discussion afterwards, and closing commentary by Douglas Campbell.
A Picture of Community Efforts in Food Security: Year after year we see that the rate of food insecurity, due to lack of income, is higher in PEI than in any other province in Canada. In 2016, PEI relies on massive contributions of volunteer time and energy and charitable donations – across the province, every day of the year – to adequately feed its people. Anne Mazer and Morgan Palmer will present a map of Islanders’ collective efforts to ensure their neighbours have adequate food, and lead a discussion, asking the question: Is this a sustainable approach to food insecurity? Jane Ledwell will offer closing comments and reflections.
Everyone is welcome! Refreshments will be served! Contact Ann Wheatley at 894-4573 for more information.
Related: Recent CBC On-line story on Food Insecurity: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-food-insecurity-1.3525018
Today is the last day of the NDP federal convention. The non-partisan Leap Manifesto has gotten some media coverage as being a proposal the NDP could accept to guide it towards a more progressive future (or "radical", as the mainstream media has been reporting). Its call for a swift transition from fossil fuels was also noted but as you can guess cautioned against by Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley.
More on Avi Lewis, proponent of the Leap Manifesto, in this CBC article from yesterday:
Related stories are through links on that page.
Much blame for the poor showing of the NDP in the October 2015 election has been declared by national commentators due to the Party's overall message and Leader. The federal election had many people afraid for causing another Harper majority, and so they voted Liberal, the party that looked like it had the better chance of winning contested seats. That's a main reason -- often overlooked -- on another "false majority" is the lack of some sort of proportional representation, which should have guaranteed that Canadians voted for the candidates they wanted, not trying to second guess how not to get a person they didn't want elected.
April 9, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Saturdays means Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM). In addition to root vegetables in very good shape, there are a lot of other foods available -- early greens, for instance, though you may have to get there early to get them. Several vendors are branching into other products, like some fermented foods from Heart Beat Organics (their Facebook page here) and others. The Facebook pages seems to be updated frequently to give you an idea of what's going on and to highlight some delicious foods:
It's also a great time to consider signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture share -- pay now, help a farmer get growing, and start getting a vegetable basket in early summer (for traditional CSAs); or a *wide* variety of other options. Here is the frequently updated list, from the PEI Food Exchange people:
Many have some way of spreading out payments, too.
This is a little bit of a joke, considering tomorrow's weather forecast, but sweet nonetheless:
"It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart." -- Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke
April 8, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
An event that may be of interest to you that's tomorrow:
Friday, April 9th:
Migrants Workers Rights Forum, 9:30AM - 4:30PM, UPEI Murphy Student Union, MacMillan Hall (large main room), organized by the Cooper Institute, no charge.
"You are invited to join the first migrant work rights forum in PEI. We invite community members, faith communities, service providers, workers, and labour groups to come together to discuss the Temporary Foreign Worker Program both locally and nationally."
Contact the Cooper Institute today if you would be able to attend: (902) 894-4573, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In the P.E.I. Legislature this yesterday, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Paula Biggar (MLA for District 23:Tyne Valley-Linkletter)
announced changes to the Office of Energy Efficiency, now given the spiffier name of "Efficiency P.E.I." The Office is in, ironically, one of the most energy inefficient-looking buildings, the Elmer J. Blanchard Building, on Gordon Drive, and which always seems to have lights on, day or night.
Here is its website, which could use that spiffing up, too:
Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Third Party (MLA for District 17: Kellys Cross-Cumberland), responded to the announcement favourably, but had two concerns: a great portion of Island energy needs are for transportation, and we have to make better strides in public transportation for all Islanders, and reversing any incentive programs from grant (up-front) to rebate (with receipts) may make it harder for many Islanders to utilize the program.
The announcement and discussion is about 1 hour 15 into yesterday afternoon's Legislative Assembly sitting, found in the Video Archives page, here.
Energy conservation and efficiency is an absolute key, and that point also needs to be made to the PEI Energy Corporation in its consultations for our Island Energy Strategy (more later).
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM today, and you can watch it on Eastlink TV or live-streamed, here.
A wonderful Global Chorus entry for April 8th:
Harriet Shugarman, a "Climate Mama" (more about the organization here, as you may be an interested Climate Parents or Grandparents:
"Each morning for a moment as I gaze intently at my sleeping children resting in blissful peace, I am refilled with resolve and hope. I remind myself that it’s my job to secure a safe and livable future for them and to ensure that they have the opportunity to grow into adults, to fight for their future as I now fight for my own and for theirs. Yet a game of chance is underway, with my children’s future the ultimate prize. The stakes have never been higher, yet humanity is trying to 'rig the game' against itself. 'The emperor is wearing no clothes', but by not seeing this, we risk losing the game.
To win, we must teach our children and remind ourselves of three simple life lessons: Tell the truth. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t be afraid.
1. There is no longer any room for denial around the climate crisis. We humans are causing our climate to change. The science is clear, the evidence is overwhelming. End of story.
2. We must acknowledge and recognize that there is no bridge to a carbon-free future. We need to step bravely into the abyss, trust in science and the evidence and make the leap to a renewable-energy future, through our actions now – individual and collective. This will put people to work, grow the economy and begin to heal our planet.
3. We must look “truth” squarely in the eye and NOT be afraid. Scientists are telling us and our planet is showing us that we need to act. Together with our children, friends, family and all humanity, we need to move quickly and boldly forward to reclaim a livable future.
I am hopeful that the odds are changing, ever so slightly, in humanity’s favour. More and more caring and thoughtful people are seeing the emperor in the full light of day, standing up to him and demanding that others open their eyes and see him clearly too. Together we CAN and must change the collision course we are on; there is no other option."-- Harriet Shugarman
April 7, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A quick note from yesterday in the Legislature:
When (new) Health Minister Robert Henderson announced yesterday during Question Period that parking fees at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital would be suspended as of July 1st of this year, he also said:
<snip> this particular announcement will save Islanders approximately $340,000 annually.<snip>
This will be a good birthday announcement for Islanders during that day, but the rationale behind that is we
have to give 60 days’ notice at least to our parking lot attendant.<snip>
It wasn't really spelled out, but it sounds like cutting the fees at QEH means cutting those jobs. That was pretty much glossed over in all the congratulations going on.
The Facebook group for the Stop Millvale (and Area) Transmission Line has current information on the issues.
A petition is here on Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/maritime-electric-no-high-voltage-lines-in-millvale
Time to look at timelines for a few of the various projects coming up for Islanders (note that all dates are tentative and mistakes/misinterpretations are my own):
a new piece of legislation for water protection and usage
April 2016 -- Recommendations from the Environmental Advisory Council to be released to public.
Summer/Fall 2016 -- First draft of Water Act to go for public consultation across the Island, led by Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell and members of the Environment Department
Spring 2017 -- Water Act submitted to the P.E.I. Legislature
Democratic Renewal/Electoral Reform
to evaluate how our electoral system is working and propose changes, and other aspects of our democratic process
April-May 2016 -- Report to be tabled to the P.E.I. Legislative from the Special Committee, perhaps making recommendations regarding a Plebiscite Question
Summer/Fall 2016 -- consultation/education public meetings
November 2016 -- Plebiscite on electoral systems
Energy Strategy Consultations
The PEI Energy Corporation (PEIEC) is tasked for "pursuing and promoting the development of energy systems and the generation, production, transmission and distribution of energy, in all its forms, on an economic and efficient basis."
It is producing a new PEI Energy Strategy. The media has said two consultants are working with the PEIEC to produce a report by June. My impression was the report would also have a round of public consultations.
April/May 2016 -- There is a (closed) stakeholder meeting next week, apparently, and public consultations later this month. Islanders can give feedback anytime on the Corporation's own page (second link, below)
Summer/Fall 2016 -- My impression was that the consultants' report would also have a round of public consultations.
Amalgamation/New Municipalities Act
November 2016 -- A new Municipalities Act to be tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature, which will set a framework for community reorganization (details not clear -- I think there may be a comment period before this)
What am I forgetting?
"Many individuals are doing what they can. But real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics." -- David Attenborough, British naturalist and broadcaster
April 6, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The P.E.I. Legislature's Spring Sitting -- the Second Session of the 65th General Assembly -- starts work today. The usual sitting times are Wednesday's 2-5PM (today), Tuesday and Thursday's 2-5PM and 7-9PM, and Friday 10AM-1PM.
The first session of any day begins with Welcomes and a few particular Member's Statements, moves to Question Period, then particular work (but not necessarily in the order that's listed on day's "Orders of the Day Paper", posted later in the morning each day and found here). The evening sittings have a pattern and get other work done. The Opposition sets the schedule Thursday afternoon and Tuesday evening (after all the welcomes and Question Period and such), I think.
You can listen to or watch today's or any any past day's proceedings on-line. Link to Legislative Assembly video page.
Today (after the initial stuff) there will likely be responses to the Speech from the Throne from Members. (If you recall, this is what former Opposition Leader Steven Myers spoke to at length last spring.) This year's Speech from the Throne did seem to be a lot of pomp and additional expense (not a lot, I am sure, but it all adds up) for a series of government announcements that will be re-announced as the session progresses. It didn't help that the Lieutenant Governor was suffering from a bad cold, and sounded tired.
No raise in the HST, though, and lots about increasing the Island's population and prosperity. Something will be done about parking at the QEH, and there were some comments on climate change and such. (I do appreciate that Premier MacLauchlan will be working with the group on implementing the Paris Climate Change agreement.)
CBC on-line story on the Speech with some interesting comments after the story.
Highlights of the Speech and the text are on this Government webpage.
A Report from the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal will be tabled sometime this spring in the House, and presumably recommendations for a Fall plebiscite question on electoral reform. Tonight is a presentation about two forms of proportional representation that have been talked about (Mixed-Member Proportional and Dual-Member Proportional). The workshop wanted preregistration, but if you can attend, contact (902) 894-4573 or email email@example.com
April 5, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The infrastructure announcement yesterday wasn't really too overwhelming, and a lot of fossil fuels were spent flying a Minister in to make a ten minute announcement of $3 million (to be matched provincially). Presumably Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau was visiting other Maritime Provinces on this trip.
From the P.E.I. government press release:
The $1-billion Small Communities Fund supports priority public infrastructure projects in communities across the country with less than 100,000 residents. The 11 projects announced today represent important investments in the green energy, drinking water, and wastewater infrastructure needed to build
stronger, more sustainable communities.
More details to follow, I hope, especially in green energy and how the projects will address climate change.
The Speech from the Throne opens the spring sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature this afternoon. It starts at 2PM, and sets the course for the Liberal Government's priorities for this year.
My impression is that the Speech is all the business for today, and the House will start a normal day tomorrow at 2PM, at the Coles Building, where the Legislature now sits.
The speech should be less than an hour, and is read by Lieutenant Governor Frank Lewis. You can read or hear the synopsis through local media, or if you wish to hear it live, you can get over to the Coles Building and sit in the Gallery (if there is space), or sit in what is now the Committee Room at the J. Angus MacLean Building across Richmond Street at the corner of Great George Street.
There is a large screen set up and a live-streaming at the Murphy Centre on Richmond Street, but my impression is that this year it returns to the traditional format of being by invitation-only, and after the Speech it is the location of The Speaker's Reception.
You can watch it live-streamed from the Legislative Assembly website, here:
the "Watch Live" button, or on Eastlink TV, I think.
Many of you have probably heard of the the issue of new electrical transmission lines in the Millvale area.
An article on-line and in this morning's Guardian
From resident Sharon Labchuk, who was tipped off of the plans when some residents discovered tree-trimming contractors working on their land last week:
(photo of a beautiful, scenic road in the area):
This scenic road in Millvale is about to be destroyed by Maritime Electric. The community is rallying to stop this insane plan.
Maritime Electric proposes to use the Smith and Millvale roads, in Millvale, St. Ann, South Granville and Pleasant Valley, as a high voltage transmission line corridor to supply power to a new substation. The location of the substation is yet to be identified. 58-foot poles will carry 69,000 volt lines.
The electricity is apparently needed to to supply increased demand, due to rampant uncontrolled development, in Cavendish, New Glasgow, Stanley Bridge and Hunter River areas.
There are more appropriate places for this development that will not ruin a beautiful, secluded, forested community on one of the Island's most scenic backcountry roads. The tree butchery began on Easter Monday but temporarily halted when community outrage boiled over. Maritime Electric plans to continue.
You can help by telling Maritime Electric and the Province to go back to the drawing board and choose a route that is already highly disturbed, like a potato field or a busy highway.
Kim Griffin at Maritime Electric: 902-629-3683
Minister of Transportation Paula Biggar: 902-368-5120
Maritime Electric customer service: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister Biggar: Paula Biggar <PJBIGGAR@assembly.pe.ca>
The Facebook group where the posting above was from and where Islanders can join and keep up-to-date.
Local MLA Brade Trivers is paying attention to residents' concerns, and Maritime Electric has admitted they made an error in not contacting residents.
April 4, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Here are some notes related to a update on the Water Act and other issues discussed at the National Farmers Union annual general meeting, which was held on Tuesday, March 15th at the Milton Hall.
Thanks to all for sending comments with me to share.
from Edith Ling, District Women's Director with the NFU:
Todd Dupuis, Executive Director for Environment attended our convention on March 15.
He went over the process for the development of the Water Act. It is expected a second round of consultations to discuss the draft act will be held by Government in late 2016 to early 2017. The Act should be completed by Spring 2017. Regulations to accompany the Act will then be written. I asked if consideration was being given to have some knowledgeable people assist in the writing of the Regulations since that is the real meat on the bones, and he said he had not thought of that, but it was a good idea. (Lots of time will be given for the general public to digest the EAC (Environmental Advisory Council) report expected in late March).
He mentioned that none of the irrigated water goes back into the aquifer. Talked about necessity of stopping ploughing in the fall and growing diversified crops.
Robert Mitchell, Minister of Community, Lands and Environment, recently answered concerns raised by Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water chair Catherine O'Brien, confirmed the dates, and commented:
"(W)e expect the EAC (Environmental Advisory Council) to have their report submitted within a matter of weeks.
<snip> (A)s I have always stated the proposed timelines will not get in the way of a quality product. We have a team internally charged with writing the draft. Considering the substantial input already from the public and the plans for a second round of consultation I feel our team has enough information and the expertise to draft the act.
"The second round of public consultations will be hosted by the department and held in various locations not unlike the process hosted by EAC. Details on the second round are in the design phase so more later as details arise." <snip> -- Robert Mitchell
Other issues raised by the NFU at the annual meeting were related by organic farmer Reg Phelan:
We, the National Farmers Union, had Minister Mitchell and Todd Dupuis at our annual meeting this past Tuesday at Milton Community Hall. The word from them is that the time line will be extended.
After our all day meeting, six of us including our National President (Jan Slomp), regional and local executive had a meeting at Minister's office with him and Todd Dupuis, who has responsibility for the Water Act and climate change files.
We expressed upon them the need to use the tools that they have in the Lands Protection Act to move foreword in the direction of Agroecology and Food Sovereignty.
And a last comment was published in The Guardian:
Shut Off Wells to Protect Water - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
There is too much deforestation and hedge destruction going on. Therefore, deep water well irrigation should be suspended until there is a plan in place to replace snow catch in P.E.I.
Todd Dupuis, from P.E.I. Environment, presented at the NFU district meeting last Tuesday.
He explained that water table recharge pretty much only comes from melting snow.
This is problematic because there is not much snow some winters and the forests are all being destroyed to make potato land.
You can’t have it both ways. Trees are all going, so shut off the wells, please, Mr. Premier.
April 3, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Here is an excerpt from and link to an interesting article (written about the United States but likely to be some similarities to Canada) about the government encouraging healthy eating on one hand, and subsidizing producers of unhealthy components on the other. It is from Earthjustice, a "non-profit public interest law organization based in the United States dedicated to environmental issues."
Their motto is: Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer
To Eat Healthy, We Need to Farm Healthy - Earthjustice website article by Peter Lehner
by Peter Lehner, attorney and director of Earthjustice's sustainable food and agriculture program
published on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, on -line on Earthjustice's website blog:
<snip> The (healthy eating) guidelines advise cutting back on sugary beverages. But here’s the irony: While we’re being urged to consume less added sugar, government policies encourage farmers to grow more field corn, which is the main source of that added sugar, in the form of high fructose corn syrup. From 1995 to 2012, the government paid more than $84 billion in corn subsidies. That’s nearly $5 billion a year in U.S. taxpayer money to make the corn syrup and animal feed that goes into the processed foods and meat we’re supposed to eat less of.
Sugar beets and sugarcane, two other sources of added sugar, enjoy a package of subsidies, price supports and tariff protections that cost consumers about $1.9 billion in 1998 alone, according to the Government Accountability Office. Again, we’re paying billions to support the mass production of foods that should only play a minor role in our diets. <snip>
This was addressed in a 2007 documentary called King Corn,
King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America's most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat-and how we farm.
More U.S.-based news (sorry): Jill Stein of the Green Party in the U.S. is running for president and speaks on CBC's Sunday Morning today.
The interview is already on-line and available here:
Bob MacDonald of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks science show writes for the April 3rd Global Chorus entry, and here is a snippet:
<snip> "Humans are most innovative when faced with a crisis. We have the ability to make tailpipes and smokestacks obsolete. We can control our numbers and reduce our environmental footprint. Ultimately, if we choose correctly, we can turn ourselves into a smoothly turning cog in the superbly complex and ever-changing machinery of our dynamic planet Earth." -- Bob MacDonald
April 2, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Summerside (9AM-1PM) and both Charlottetown Farmers' Markets (9AM-2PM) (the one on Belvedere and the new one at the Farm Centre on 420 University Avenue) are open today.
Tonight at UPEI:
UPEI Global Village and Gala, 6-9PM, McMillan Hall (the big space at the student union hall at UPEI). Free and open to the public.
"Gates open at 5:30pm. An event full of fun activities, stalls and performances from around the world. Wear your traditional clothes or anything you are comfortable with and come discover and experience the world in one night. A few key activities include Land acknowledgment, a fashion show, performances by different countries and much more. At the start of the event, the new executives of SIS will be announced. This event has been organised by the Society of International Students and the International Relations Office. It is free of cost and open to EVERYONE!!!"
Here is Sharon Labchuk's opinion piece in Wednesday's paper with her concerns about children and pesticide exposure (the headline is not quite what the entire article is about).
A shift to organic agriculture - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Sharon Labchuk
Published on Wednesday, March 30th, 2016
Children must be safe from exposure to agricultural pesticides at school, home
The P.E.I. Potato Board’s proposed scheme to plant trees between schoolyards and potato fields in collaboration with the provincial government and the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance is at best an acknowledgement that agricultural pesticides are a health threat to children.
Earth Action views the proposal as an ill-conceived and desperate public relations stunt using children as pawns. There is no evidence that inserting a strip of trees between schools and potato fields will lessen the impact of highly toxic pesticides on children’s health.
Almost 20 years ago, Earth Action produced a report documenting the proximity of schools to sprayed agricultural fields.
We found that 80 per cent of rural children attended schools within one-half kilometre of sprayed fields. We’re in the process of updating these statistics but so far the situation today appears to be just as grim.
Environment Canada says P.E.I. is the most intensively sprayed province in Canada, with high levels of potato pesticides detected in the air both near and distant from sprayed fields.
Even after application, vapours from pesticides dried onto plant and soil surfaces can represent a significant source of air contamination for days or up to weeks.
Once released into the environment, pesticides are known to travel.
The sheer intensity of pesticide use in P.E.I. means children are exposed to highly dangerous chemicals both at school and at home simply by breathing, and no strip of trees is going to change that.
The provincial government admitted agricultural pesticides contaminated the drinking water of 11 Island schools, and with pesticides commonly detected in rain and dust in agricultural areas, there is just no escaping these poisons.
Even before attending school, children are exposed to pesticides in the womb. Recent studies found babies in the womb exposed to common pesticides have lower IQ scores than their peers by the time they reach school age.
Other research links prenatal pesticide exposure to developmental delays, behavioural problems, learning disabilities and cancer.
Pesticides in agricultural areas are found in household dust when the chemicals enter buildings through air intake systems, open windows and doors, and on the soles of shoes. And, of course, the potato industry is responsible for polluting virtually every drop of drinking water in the province with nitrates from chemical fertilizer.
Researchers from the University of Waterloo said they were shocked to discover that negligible amounts of certain pesticides could wipe out the immune systems of frogs, animals with essentially the same immune system as humans. Other studies of low-dose pesticide exposure also find associations with adverse health effects, especially in children and fetuses.
We need to destroy the myth that buffer zones and a reduction in pesticide use will make everything better. No pesticide exposure is safe. The only sane solution is to shift to organic agriculture. Fast.
Kids have the right to be safe at school and at home, and that includes being safe from exposure to agricultural pesticides so dangerous that applicators wear protective gear and sit in tractor cabs fitted with air filters. We all have a responsibility to protect children by insisting on these rights and by rejecting ridiculous potato industry greenwashing schemes.
Sharon Labchuk is P.E.I. co-ordinator, Earth Action
April 1, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The next stage of provincial Democratic Renewal has been quietly ticking along. Today is the last day that the Special Committee would like to receive public feedback on this stage, which is to make recommendations on a plebiscite question. (They will submit their recommendations in a report at some point this month to the provincial Legislative Assembly, which opens next Tuesday, April 5th at 2PM, with the 2016 Speech from the Throne.)
Their survey about the plebiscite question looks like this (well, it's clearer than this blurry screenshot):
screenshot of plebiscite question survey, which is actually found here:
It's a bit off-putting for its complexity, which also needs to be addressed in any actual question -- not too make it too confusing or appear slanted.
General Comments about this stage can be sent today to <email@example.com>. A possibility (if pressed for time but want to provide some feedback) is to send them the guest opinion or the link below to it with any comments:
Only way to electoral reform on P.E.I. - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan MacPhee
Published on March 29, 2016
If our government truly wants to move P.E.I. beyond our outdated electoral system and into the 21st century, we must ensure strong public education on the options available to us that will get us there.
Canadians and Islanders have had enough of our current system of First Past the Post (FPTP). This is why Prime Minister Trudeau made it a part of his election campaign that 2015 would be the last unfair federal election.
We have the same opportunity here in P.E.I. Over the years, FPTP has consistently produced false majority governments, both nationally and provincially, that receive less than 50 per cent of the popular vote, more than 50 per cent of the seats, and with those seats, 100 per cent of the power to force through whatever legislation and policies they see fit.
Dual Member Proportional (DMP), or Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) are the only two real options that offer true reform.
To find out more about how these systems would work on P.E.I., you can attend the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation’s workshop, Understanding DMP and MMP, taking place on Wednesday, April 6, at 6:30 at Murphy’s Community Centre in Charlottetown.
If we’re going to make a sincere effort at reform this time around, we’d better learn from our past mistakes made in the 2005 plebiscite on electoral reform.
Mistake #1 in 2005 was the support requirement. A “supermajority” in 2005 required both 60 per cent of the popular vote in favour of change, as well as 60 per cent of P.E.I.’s districts (16 of 27). That sort of result has only occurred once in P.E.I. history, and that was for an actual provincial election.
The solution: We must have an attainable 50-percent-plus-one requirement, like we had even for the majorly contested Confederation Bridge plebiscite. I’ve been told that this is the plan, which is encouraging to hear.
Mistake #2 in 2005 was poor communication and conditions that reduced voter participation. In order to cut costs, 75 per cent of regular polling stations were closed on the day of the 2005 plebiscite, meaning many communities didn’t have a place to vote and many people unknowingly showed up to locked doors. Polling stations that were open had such long line-ups that many people walked away in frustration before having the chance to vote.
The solution: All regular polling stations must be opened to encourage maximum public input into the process. Also, the voters list used in last May’s provincial election should be used to make the process as efficient and straightforward as possible.
Mistake #3 in 2005 was when the premier became overly involved in the process. Now, this mistake has already been repeated by Premier MacLauchlan with his comments in December.
Former premier Pat Binns’ disruption of the 2005 plebiscite compelled former chief justice Norman Carruthers, who was appointed as the Commissioner of Electoral Reform at the time, to criticize the premier for “tinkering with the most important and fundamental right of our democracy: the franchise,” our right to vote.
The solution: Premier MacLauchlan should not use his special status as a tool to advocate for one electoral system or another.
Of course, he should be free to speak with and educate those in his own district, just like all of our MLAs should, and I encourage them to do so, but he should not use his position as Premier to unfairly sway public opinion on a matter that should be in the hands of Islanders.
By finally moving beyond FPTP, and toward some form of proportional representation, we will transform the popular vote and wishes of citizens into accurate representation in our provincial legislature, and give every Islander a voice in their community, as a liberal democracy, and Liberal governments, should aim to do.
Jordan MacPhee is a student of political science and environmental studies at UPEI, a farmer, and a board member of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (ECO-P.E.I.).
If you are able to come to the proportional representation presentation on Wednesday, April 6th, 6:30PM at the Murphy Centre, please contact the Coalition for Proportional Representation to let them know you would like a seat today:
Call (902) 894-4573 or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On a side note: Part of the democratic renewal process is to deal with other issues related to legislative assembly reform -- the calendar, campaign financing, encouraging people to run/barriers to others running for office,etc. -- but besides a half-hearted couple of ads in February in The Guardian, calling for public interest which resulted in one not-well-advertised meeting, there has been no real conversation on some of these; the issues (besides great comments on campaign reform) having been dwarfed by electoral systems change. These should be more fully revisited at some point, and that comment could be made to the Committee today.
screenshot of the quiet little ad printed in The Guardian from February 20th, 2016. I missed it, too.