April 30, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
April 29, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
April 28, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
April 27, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Variation in payment for land being acquired for the Cornwall Bypass was the topic of Question Period in the provincial Legislature. (Those of us who weathered the Plan B highway are feeling deja vu.) The Opposition MLAs, led by Darlene Compton (D4:Belfast-Murray River) and Matt MacKay (D20: Kensington-Malpeque, who happens to be a realtor). They discovered that a 65-parcel of land, which sounded like it was owned by the family of former Transportation Minister Ron McKinley, went for thousands of dollars above its value. For this same project, the Liberal government has expropriated the land (and now, apparently will be in legal action) with the Hughes-Jones Centre land, as they were offering what the owners feel cannot be enough to relocate. James Aylward (D6: Stratford-Kinlock), just as he worked hard for those marginalized by Plan B, advocated for the work the Hughes-Jones Centre does with kids and those with mental health issues.
When current Transportation Minister Paula Biggar explained about how they get to those prices, here was an exchange with some commentary interjected by MLA Steven Myers of Georgetown-St. Peters:
Minister Biggar: <snip>
Again, when we are looking at acquiring property and when those deals are finalized
and those papers are filed for public disclosure, and when we are dealing with
different properties, depending on what the assessed value is--
Mr. Myers: Whether or not they have a Liberal membership.
Ms. Biggar: --that is, and the appraised value--
Mr. Myers: Buy dinner tickets.
Ms. Biggar: --then that is how we proceed with our negotiations.
Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
It is definitely worth reading, with more details about this deal and later an exchange between Sidney MacEwen and Education Minister Doug Currie on wait times for children's psychological assessments.
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM (unless they decide to work through their supper break as they did Tuesday), which you can watch here.
Sarah Tawaka is now a senior environmental officer at Fiji's Department of Environment. Here is an article from The New York Times about tabuas (or sperm whale teeth) where she is quoted. She writes this wonderful essay for the APril 27th Global Chorus.
Planet Earth is a treasury depository from which humanity – the most powerful group of beings on Earth – draws most of its raw and natural resource materials, which then drive powerful economies of the world. The human race depends on Earth for its survival and for the survival of other species. For centuries, humankind has been drawing from planet Earth. It is about time humanity realizes the exhaustion of its reserves due to overdrawing capital assets from planet Earth. It is time for us to invest in planet Earth to ensure the survival of humanity and all species.
The human race is innovative, creative, dynamic and above all possesses HOPE! And yet, even though we have seen triumph over adversities throughout the centuries, a new crisis is now at hand, environmental and social. In order to properly address this crisis, humanity needs to invest in planet Earth.
With a hopeful outlook, interventions at the regional, national and global level are calling for practical actions with the objective of creating a future for every living organism – which will in turn ensure the continued survival of the human species. This future will be enabled by reinventing humanity’s wheel of life and shifting from the business as usual attitude. This future includes the equitable reallocation of resources and the benefits arising from the utilization of such resources. This future is encompassing and inclusive, and recognizes the values and natural services provided by natural-based capital. This future is emphasized by collectiveness and connectedness and the realization that no being is an island.
This is the FUTURE WE WANT. Deliberations at international forums are already negotiating this future, which will be cascaded down to national, regional and local communities.
It is a future for all on planet Earth! Collectively, we have hope, and humanity will rise to the crisis at hand.
— Sarah Tawaka
April 26, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM today. Watch live.
Yesterday was a bit unusual in that, after Question Period and Statements, the House worked on the Health budget, which usually allows lots of questions about just about anything. The Opposition focused a lot on mental health, and didn't really get an clarity of promises of doing things better.
Instead of breaking for supper from 5-7PM, the Legislature kept on going. The hard-working pages were released for a supper break about 6PM, at the suggestion of an avuncular Richard Brown (D12: Charlottetown-Victoria Park). About 8:25PM, the House approved the massive $664million Health PEI budget, and went on into Opposition evening.
Leader of the Third Party and D17: Kelly's Cross-Cumberland MLA Peter Bevan-Baker brought back to the floor the private members' bill on lowering the voting age. The next while was spent with some MLAs asking about juvenile offenders being elected to the Legislature (a possibility, probably remote) and Bevan-Baker's personal opinions regarding the legal age of a wide variety of rights that different governments give at different times. Education Minister Doug Currie commented he couldn't get his 16 year old daughter to clean her room; how would he get her to vote? There was also a paternal worry that childhood would be robbed if kids had to worry about voting.
(This one-and-a-half minute rendition of "Kids" by Paul Lynde from Bye Bye Birdie capture the tone of this part of the evening.)
In the end, the bill was recommended to be rejected, and Bevan-Baker asked for a recorded vote. Four Tory MLAs and Bevan-Baker basically voted for the idea -- MLA Matt MacKay (D20: Kensington-Malpeque, Brad Trivers (D18: Rustico-Emerald), Sidney MacEwen (D7: Rustico-Mermaid) and James Aylward (D: 6: Stratford-Kinlock). So there are a few looking to the future.
Several people made their way to Fortune to the meeting about Aqua Bountry amended application to start raising GM-salmon at the facility. More later.
Author of The Good Human blog David Quilty writes the April 26th Global Chorus.
As innovative as humans have proven themselves to be over time, I do believe we can find a path through our environmental issues – but only if we accept the fact that they are actually happening.
With climate deniers prophesying from their comfortable perches and media outlets offering up their opinion as fact, it can be difficult for the average global citizen to hear the truth about what dire straits we are currently in and will be facing in the near future. Once the majority of civilization understands this, it is my opinion that we will be able to mobilize and use our vast scientific abilities to overcome anything.
Whether it means we are somehow able to geo-engineer our way around dramatic changes to the climate or we work to make life habitable on Earth while living with the coming changes, success depends on educating the population with facts and not rhetoric. As a unit, the human race responds to the truth and there is strength in numbers. Above everything else, education is key to our survival; without it, we won’t be able to make the collective, worldwide effort to find the solutions we need to adapt and survive.
We can do this, but it’s going to take a majority to make it happen. Let’s get to work.
— David Quilty
April 25, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5 and 7-9PM today. You can watch from here,
and find House records and such here.
"The Mighty (GM-fish) Food Island"
Word reached some of us that the Aqua Bounty people have made an amendment to their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) application, which was approved last summer.
The amendment is -- contrary to all they said in the application that the Rollo Bay operation would be only an egg-rearing facility -- to build new structures and raise genetically modified (GM) salmon, presumably to eating size. (But they do plan on reclaiming some of water used, which many of us were critical about in their previous phase application. Small comfort.)
The amendment was apparently filed on the EIA website about ten days ago, when many of us were toiling away on the Water Act draft comments and speaking at the consultation meetings.
The documentation is here:
The only public meeting (hosted by the company) is TONIGHT, April 25th, drop in anytime between 6-8PM, at Fortune Community Centre. There will be a ten day comment period starting tomorrow. And that's all the public can find out about it.
Printed after the Global Chorus essay is a letter which nearby Aqua Bounty residents, Dawn and Stephen Carter, posted on social media on Sunday, April 23rd, with a huge amount of background and info on the project.
At a time when we are we are losing species at an alarming rate, destroying our incredible planet and in the midst of an economic crisis, it is difficult not to feel inundated with thoughts of hopelessness and fear. But in spite of all this, I do have hope. I have spent almost two decades working with some of the most critically endangered animals in the world. Many of these species were on the brink of extinction. And yet, we have managed to ensure their survival. I have lived in remote, impoverished villages with little to no access to water or healthcare, where the local people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. And yet,
they find ways to survive day to day, smiling all the while.
Human beings are one of the most adaptable species on the planet and what we need to save our planet is adaptability: adaptations in the way we use our limited resources, and in the way we must prioritize the treatment and condition of our planet. Nature’s resilience and human determination should not be undermined. The destruction of our planet is preventable. Although humans are largely responsible for much of this destruction – pollution, deforestation and global climate change – we also are its best hope for survival.
— Mireya Mayor
Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.
Aqua Bounty Neighbours' letter:
Nearby residents, Dawn and Stephen Carter, write:
April 23, 2017
It is our opinion that our new “neighbour”, Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc. withheld information from us regarding their plans to expand their operations to the fish hatchery in Rollo Bay, which is in close proximity to our home.
Aqua Bounty has an aquaculture facility in Fortune and their head office is based in Massachusetts. They developed AquAdvantage salmon, a genetically modified fish (GMO). The salmon was designed using DNA from other fish resulting in all female, sterile salmon which exhibit rapid growth compared to conventionally farmed salmon. Aqua Bounty promotes it as an environmentally sustainable fish as it requires less rearing time.
It made international news as being the first genetically modified animal approved “safe” to eat by the FDA. Last May, Health Canada also approved it to be safe and nutritious for both humans and livestock. Health Canada will not require the salmon to be labeled GMO; consumers will be unaware they are purchasing engineered salmon.
In April 2016 we attended a public consultation session regarding Aqua Bounty’s proposed purchase of the existing Snow Island’s Atlantic Sea Smolt hatchery in Rollo Bay. We were concerned their operations might affect our groundwater and how it would affect the Rollo Bay stream which runs through the site. Of course, we were also concerned about the possibility of genetically modified salmon escaping and jeopardizing wild fish stocks.
The Aqua Bounty facility manager assured us there would be no impact on our water and their operations would actually enhance the Rollo Bay stream by increasing the flow with screened water from their operations. The facility manager told us it would be an egg-rearing facility and there would be NO genetically modified eggs or salmon at the Rollo Bay Site; the site would be used for eggs for their conventional (non-GMO) salmon only.
Excerpts from their May 19, 2016 Environmental Impact Assessment regarding GMO at the Rollo Bay site back up this information:
"The proposed facility at Rollo Bay West will have no GMO salmon. The Rollo Bay West facility will be used for non-transgenic salmon egg production purposes. Populations of non-transgenic fish are maintained in Fortune using pedigree, inventory controls, and genotype testing."
"There are no GMO activities occurring at the proposed facility. The salmon and associated eggs are not GMO."
Based on the information we were told, it appeared to us that Aqua Bounty would operate the hatchery similarly to how various businesses operated it over the past several years, therefore, it caused us no great concern.
We recently learned there will be another public consultation to take place this Tuesday, April 25 and we wondered why this consultation would be needed. After having conversations with area residents it became evident that Aqua Bounty’s proposed plans are now very different from what they assured us last year. We found the related documents on princeedwardisland.ca and what we found is causing us a lot of unease.
May 19, 2016 the Environmental Impact Statement report confirmed there will be no GMO salmon on site and confirmed that measures will be in place for containment and effluent discharge into the Rollo Bay stream. After a pump test, it was determined the amount of water needed by the facility would have an impact on the base-flow of the Rollo Bay stream. To remedy the problem their solution is to discharge water upstream to a point of approximately 300m to increase flow back down to their operations.
June 10, 2016 Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land & Environment signs approval for Aqua Bounty to proceed with their operations.
June 17, 2016 Aqua Bounty is granted a Groundwater Extraction Permit to use the 4 high capacity wells already on site with pumping rates outlined. (There are 288 high capacity wells across PEI serving municipal, industry, aquaculture, etc. The Rollo Bay site has 4 high capacity wells. There is presently a moratorium on PEI preventing any new drilling of high capacity wells.)
April 12, 2017 Aqua Bounty files an AMENDED Environmental Impact Assessment
Aqua Bounty amended assessment is now requesting to rear GENETICALLY MODIFIED “AquAdvantage” salmon at the Rollo Bay site for commercial food production with site access off Bear River Rd.
In addition to the existing hatchery building on site, Aqua Bounty proposes to build two 40,000 sq ft facilities at the Rollo Bay site on the north side of the Rollo Bay stream:
• 40,000 sq ft building for eggs & broodstock of GMO salmon
• 40,000 sq ft grow-out facility for GMO salmon. When they reach maximum growth, they are purged, euthanized & trucked off-site for processing. Processing site still to be determined
• Aqua Bounty to use a Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) to lessen water usage. In the event the system fails, they are permitted to draw 6,250 litres of water per minute from the already existing high capacity wells to be used as a back-up should the recirculation system go down for any length of time; this is for “short-term” use only and they would have to comply with their water extraction permit
• Broodstock expected to consume maximum 165 kg of pellet feed per day. Grow-out salmon expected feed usage is 867 kg of feed per day. (Totals approx. 1 ton of feed per day)
• Total monthly volume of semi-moist manure to be collected is expected to be about 44 to 55 cubic meters. The semi-moist manure will be disposed of on agricultural land and tilled into the soil. The applied volume will not exceed 120 m3/hectare/application.
• The site will have the capacity to produce 250 metric tons per year of GMO salmon
It’s alarming to see how much Aqua Bounty’s plans changed from their initial environmental assessment. It’s obvious they first needed approval to access the site and when that was approved they gained their foothold on the site, they switched gears, and set their real plan in motion. As one person described it, the first environmental assessment presented one year ago was their “test balloon”.
The company has recorded financial losses due to legal challenges and negative media attention but they were able to secure significant funding for their expansion from a bio-tech firm named Intrexon. This gave them the cash-flow to proceed with submitting the amended proposal to expand their operations at the Rollo Bay site.
Their estimated cost for this amended project is $13 million. We assume Aqua Bounty will want to get their GMO fish to market as quickly as possible to start generating revenue. They have a lot riding on the acceptance of this amended proposal.
If they are granted approval, we feel there will be a substantial negative impact on our surrounding community’s environment and on our ground water; in both quantity and quality. This scaled up commercial operation will require considerably more start-up water and maintenance water, even though it’s promoted as “recirculation”. There will be an increased amount of cleaner disinfectant used for the large quantity of holding tanks. Increased food demand will result in increased manure waste. There will be higher rate of discharge water pumped upstream to keep their required flow going. There will be an increase in effluent resulting is more water discharged downstream. We’d like to add that all of this will contain GMO proteins.
It was also noted in an article that Aqua Bounty is working on developing GMO trout and GMO tilapia. Another article notes the new Rollo Bay site will be a “Pilot-scale” commercial operation (40,000 sq ft) and they expect this will be “followed by the establishment of a site suitable for larger-scale commercial grow-out in North America”. The Rollo Bay site has 40 acres so it’s not unrealistic to think they may be looking for more expansions in the future.
The Rollo Bay site is adjacent to the Bear River Rd. The site is secluded by trees and tends to “fall under the radar”. We are certain they are hoping for no opposition at this public consultation or for the 10 calendar days following the public consultation. If there is not significant objection they will most likely have approval to proceed. This is potentially their last hurdle before starting construction of their first North American commercial growing facility for GMO salmon.
We expect they will most likely be doing their best to convince the public that the amended proposal will be of no harm to the quality or quantity of our community’s groundwater, to our environment, to our people and of course, they will tell us it will create jobs.
Aqua Bounty promotes AquAdvantage salmon as a more environmentally sustainable fish….but do they care about the sustainability of the environment and our water quality and quantity or are they only concerned about the sustainability of their profits?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter,
Dawn & Stephen Carter
Bear River, PEI
Information Session/Public Consultation
Aqua Bounty's Proposed Redevelopment of Snow Islands Atlantic Sea Smolt Facility
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Drop in anytime between 6:00 - 8:00pm
Fortune Community Centre
We feel it is very important to write down your comments or concerns so there is documentation.
You can also send written comments for a period of 10 calendar days following the consultation to:
Mr. Dale Thompson, Environmental Assessment Officer
Documents pertaining to this are found on princeedwardisland.ca website. In the search line on the site, type Aqua Bounty and a drop down box will appear with approximately 8 documents listed.
April 24, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
There is a bit of a breather in public consultations, and the P.E.I. Legislature resumes sitting tomorrow, Tuesday, from 2-5 and 7-9PM.
Later this week:
Friday, April 28th, 7:30PM, Macphail Woods, last Owl Prowl.
from the media release:
Come celebrate all things owls at the Macphail Homestead in Orwell on April 29. 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 charge but donations to the Foundation will be gratefully accepted.
At 7:30pm, the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project will hold its final Owl Prowl of the season at the Nature Centre.
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.
The Owl Prowls kick 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 or find us on Facebook.
Keep in mind that the Plant Nursery at Macphail opens on May 4th (details on the website)
Osvald Bjelland, chairman and CEO of Xyntéo, is the founder of the Global Leadership and Technology Exchange (GLTE) partnership
We need to break the link between the pursuit of human ambition and the depletion of the natural environment. To move people and goods without warming the climate. To transform waste into a resource. To redirect consumption away from the accumulation of stuff. To power ourselves – heat our homes, preserve our food and light our lamps – without making our air unbreathable.
In short, we need to reinvent growth.
It is all too easy to dismiss these aims as lofty dreams. Yet they are no loftier than the telephone was during the last days of the telegram, nor any more improbable than the internal combustion engine was when the preferred mode of transport was the horse-drawn carriage. In fact, I would argue that it is those who call change impractical who are the impractical ones.
I believe businesses can and will be at the heart of this change, and that is why I founded the GLTE partnership, which connects global businesses engaged in the pursuit of resource-efficient, low-carbon growth. The partnership has a bias for action – conceiving and conducting projects that aim to enable businesses to grow in a new way, fit for the resource, climate and demographic realities of the 21st century. Through collaboration across industries, sectors and geographies, the GLTE partnership is working to show that the “unthinkable” – stripping carbon and other forms of waste out of growth – is not only a possible alternative, but also a highly desirable imperative, leading to a safer, cleaner world, prosperous economies and competitive, dynamic business.
Now is the time to act: the companies that get into the driving seat and push for a new kind of growth will reap the rewards as their customers increasingly call for ethical and sustainable business practices. And by collaborating, working with other companies across traditional industry divisions, businesses can make the changes that are required more easily, quickly and safely. I believe in human ingenuity, and that by working together, across business sectors, industries and geographies, the balance between our natural and human resources can be restored.
— Osvald Bjelland
April 23, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last day of the Atlantic Green Expo, at UPEI's Engineering Building, 10AM to 6PM; there details from their website.
10:00am – Atlantic Green Expo Opens
Starting at 10:30am – Hourly Education & Information Sessions
12:00pm – 4:00pm – Sierra Club’s Wild Child Zone for Kids*
2:00pm – New Idea Pitch Sessions
5:00pm – Door prize draw
5:30pm – Grand prize draw
6:00pm – Atlantic Green Expo Closes
* PEI Sierra Club is hosting the family and children’s activities from noon to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday April 22 and 23. Besides the Earth Art Show, Clothesline Art and family art activities; face painting; seed planting; and a reading tent there will be an ‘Earth Tunes’ Concert both days, with the schedule:
12:30pm – Tony the Troubador
1:00pm – Jordan MacPhee
2:00pm – Karalee MacAskill
3:00pm – The Fresh Air Inspectors
The Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra performs at 2:30PM today at Zion Presbyterian Church, corner of Prince and Grafton Streets. Tickets available at the door. The concert will undoubted feature some touching tributes to one of the founders of the PEISO, John Clements, who passed away earlier this month. PEISO website
There are a lot of links in the following paragraphs, if you want to wander past all the egos, but with some messages for Earth Day, too. (If the links don't carry through, you may be able to google for the specific articles.)
An article on Elizabeth May this week in The Financial Post this week nearly borders on a hatchet job, extensively citing former Progressive Conservative Tom McMillan's book, Not My Party for the details of Ms. May's time working for Mr. McMillan and various episodes that led to their parting company. Local Island columnist Alan Holman wrote a blistering review of McMillan's book in The Guardian on April 8th, 2017.
Ms. May, in her role as Federal Green Party Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, had her office send out a message on Earth Day on Friday, April 21st:
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Did you know that the position of Parliamentary Poet Laureate was created in Canada in 2001? Each one serves for two years, and the position alternates between Francophone and Anglophone writers.
Parliamentarians may request a poem for special occasions, and so to celebrate Earth Day, Elizabeth requested a poem from our current Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke. Thank you to Mr. Clarke for his poem, Earth Day Emergency <also printed at the end of this Citizens' Alliance News>, and to Robert Paquin for the French translation, Urgence Jour de la Terre. You can learn more about the Parliamentary Poet Laureate here.
Earth Day Emergency reminds us that we cannot be complacent as we mark the 47th Earth Day. In the midst of a climate crisis, we must take action quickly. Together, we can face these challenges, and leave a better world for future generations.
Science recently published “A roadmap for rapid decarbonization” (Vox also published a good summary of the research ), showing how carbon emissions must be reduced by half every decade to meet the climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement. These scientists have shown that it is still possible to meet our global climate targets, but only with a serious and aggressive plan.
Christiana Figueres, the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has launched #2020DontBeLate – and is calling on nations that signed on to the Paris Agreement to ratchet up their efforts in the next three years.
What should we be doing in Canada?
Press (Prime Minister)Trudeau to strengthen our weak national target. We need to cut emissions in half by 2030;
Push for decarbonized electricity across the country – and fast;
Upgrade buildings to energy efficiency; and,
Move to promote and install solar roofs and insulation, along with a wide suite of renewables.
Step by step, we can achieve these things together. The Liberal Government is not doing enough. Never doubt the power of civic engagement.
Write letters to the editor of your local and national publications;
Contact your municipal, provincial, and federal representatives about these important issues;
Sign/Start a petition;
On April 22nd, Earth Day, join the March for Science; and,
On April 29th, join the People’s March for the Climate.
There is much more work to do – for our children and grandchildren, and all living things on this beautiful planet. -- Elizabeth May
The chief problems our world faces today are radical social inequality and radical environmental destruction. But there is a solution. We can solve both problems by creating millions of green jobs to put people to work in industries that will heal both our economic suffering and the Earth.
The two big systems that most need change are in the areas of food and fuel. If we change the way we power our buildings and our machines, that will be the clean energy revolution. If we change the way we power our bodies, that will be the green food revolution. If we change both systems at the same time, we can create billions of new jobs and ensure that the 22nd century will be one worth living in.
It’s time to innovate. The next wave of jobs must push the boundaries of technology with wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, hybrid and electric cars, next-generation batteries and biofuels. Let’s build energy-efficient homes, buildings and recreational spaces. Let’s build the foundations of a fuel-efficient and environmentally sustainable world to leave to our children and grandchildren.
Our other challenge is the green food revolution. Today’s big industrial farming model is based on poison and pollution. Thousands of farmers with invaluable wisdom have been displaced. There must be a space for agricultural workers in this economy. We should work for those who work the land to breathe health and life back into our communities. The organic and slow food movements offer not just a surer pathway to physical well-being but also to wealth and work for people in or around cities. If we commit to bringing local and organic food to every table, we can make innovations like vertical farms and hydroponics transform our urban landscapes.
An immense responsibility rests in our hands. It is time to assume our role as not only environmental stewards but stewards of the future – we are creating the world our children will inherit. Let’s make it a world where we respect ourselves, our communities and the spaces we inhabit.
— Van Jones
Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.
Earth Day Emergency
Earth Day should be Thanksgiving, not Mother
Earth’s Good Friday, when Extinction’s spectre—
Those ghosts of the Endangered or those Dead
Creatures haunt us—souls polluted by lead,
Mercury, arsenic, acids, and seeds
“Frankensteined” genetically. Live meat bleeds
As it conveyor-belts from plains to plates—
Shrink-wrapped, sporting “Best Before”-stamp, stale dates—
While dolphins and whales, having gulped down our
Plastic garbage and water bottles, lour,
Thrash, and beach themselves, their bellies starving,
And tides turn as red as blood spilled, carving
And serving mad cows or sick swine, all ill
From ingesting strange flesh and/or feces,
Contracted in ponds, scum-green with algaes.
Earth Day should be Eden Revival Day,
Not a “Mayday! Mayday!” Emergency,
When the Apocalypse sounds factual—
Angels strike, and precious seem wine and oil,
And the seas belch up blood, and all fish die,
And sun scorches like fire, so wetlands dry,
And locusts chew roots, leaves, fruits, and Famine
Eats every human down to skeleton,
And skies shine with poison Radiation
Or go dark with choking smog. No nation
Is immune from terra firma that shakes!
One must ask: Does fracking trigger earthquakes?
Ebola, SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu,
And other pestilential plagues renew,
Plus West Nile Virus, and other disease—
Infections without treatment, deaths sans cease.
Lethal’s now the baffling kiss of sunlight—
Intricately broken down is skin, white
With pus, putrid with boils, palpably raw,
While tornadoes whirl and swirl, clout and claw,
Oceans go soapy as a laundromat,
Foaming; skyscrapers totter; homes go splat;
A tsunami of trash washes away
Hospitals, leaving unsanitary
Cadavers. Each toxic anatomy—
In obscene inundation—heaps awry.
Oil spills, clear-cut forests, firestorms, sink-holes
Swallowing suburbs whole, are routine tolls
Now, for “Progress.” Condemned seas and damned winds,
Waste lands, Rust Belts, vast contaminations,
Thorns and rubbish, smashed glass, cracked ceramics,
Charred remains, scorched-earth, war-zone Economics,
Bomb-blast disasters ever more drastic,
Atomic threats, arms races elastic,
Ever expanding, is just a short list
Of unpalatable residues unjust,
The catastrophes now making us sick—
Is Capital the acceptable
Villain, or are our choices culpable?
If Mother Earth now faces assassins,
Who are the culprits if not we humans?
This Earth Day demands deliberate turns
Back to Nature: Balance: What each child learns.
George Elliott Clarke
Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17)
April 22, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Earth Day!
Farmers' markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown.
An Owl Prowl #2 at Macphail Woods, 7:30PM-9PM
The very time-limited Pinch Penny Fair, 10AM-1PM, Confederation Centre, "indoor yard sale and children's fair", Admission $2, kids 12 and under free.
Earth Day / Atlantic Green Expo at the UPEI's Sustainable Engineering Design Building, Sierra Club PEI hosting family activities from noon - 4PM Saturday and Sunday (at least, as I couldn't quite find the exact times).
Lots to see and do.
Marion Copleston at the Wild Child Sierra Club PEI booth on the main floor at the Green Expo, Friday, April 21st, 2017
Solar panels on roof of UPEI's Sustainable Engineering Design Building, Friday, April 21st, 2017
Regarding events in Washington, D.C.:
"With the March for Science happening (today) and the Peoples Climate March coming to DC just one week later, I’m inspired to see so many people taking to the streets—day after day—to stand up for truth, justice, and a stable climate."
-- actor and environmentalist Mark Ruffalo
Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum), Ne¯hiyaw indigenous knowledge keeper, co-founder of Idle No More, Turtle Island, Treaty 6 lands, and author, writes today Global Chorus.
The spirit of resistance instilled within Idle No More has spanned generations since Europeans arrived on the shores of our people’s lands. Idle No More is an indigenous-led resistance to ongoing colonization of indigenous peoples on Turtle Island (Canada), a resistance steeped in a sacred hope and dream for justice, freedom and liberation for all.
One of our most sacred and peaceful laws has been invoked as part of the resistance: nâtamâwasowin is a law carried by Nēhiyaw (Cree) people in times of great threat and crisis. Nâtamâwasowin means to defend for all human children of the world as well as future generations. Also nâtamâwasowin directs us to defend for the children of all animals, plants, water and the winged ones – every thing in creation that has a spirit. Part of defending is recognizing that we all want freedom, liberation and justice for our children. In my people’s language, children are called “awâsisak” which similarly means “glowing sacred flames”; in this we must view future generations as sacred flames that must be protected, loved and nurtured.
The vibration of the Earth is out of balance. Our human actions and activities have taken us to a situation of crisis and threat to our humanity and creation. Now is the time for the world to reach into that place of a collective profound love and peace for all awâsisak and invoke nâtamâwasowin. The highest accomplishment for any person in the spirit of warriors is achieving peace for their nation, but an even greater achievement is to create a world of peace for future generations in a manner that sustains a vibration of love that is healing. It is not enough to say “I love children”; we are now called upon to take meaningful peaceful action in times of conflict and destruction to remember that our defending be layered with collective sacred love of all children. Let our actions unfold the future. Let us be Idle No More.
— Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum)
April 21, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Reminders about today:
Atlantic Green Expo/Engineering Expo/Earth Day celebrations, UPEI campus, School of Sustainable Engineering Design, this afternoon, 1PM on ward, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon (noon-4PM) are Earth Day (weekend?) activities.
SEA (Southeast Environmental Association) Film Festival -- "Fish Tales" and "Last Call at the Oasis", 7PM, Riverhouse Inn, Montague.
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM today. Watch here.
Yesterday, the main Opposition questions during Question Period were about the Premier making all the decisions, on the Carbon tax, electoral reform, closing/not closing schools, the appointed school board, etc. There was a little hooting at Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell after he answered a friendly government backbencher question on climate change, that "the engines were revving in Sherwood" apparently referring to their conjecture that Minister Mitchell is preparing a run for Liberal leader.
Peter Bevan-Baker used his series of questions to revisit the Premier's comment from the day before that calls for independent ombudspersons such as a Child Advocate were basically partisan. Bevan-Baker asserted these calls had the best interest of children in mind, and this was an attack on his integrity, and only fueled cynicism.
The latter part of the afternoon was a fairly disruptive and kind of petty time, as an Opposition motion (No. 92 -- Urging expansion of the insulin pump program for adult Type 1 diabetes) caused a not-so-friendly amendment from the Health Minister adding, "when finances allow" and an amendment to the amendment was brought forward....The Health Minister saying he couldn't begin to decide how to spend any extra health dollars; a bit ingenuous when it's our leaders who are supposed to consult and then make good decisions. Bevan-Baker pointed this out, referring to Green Party policies regarding long-range thinking and proper investing; I was also thinking of something similar to an infrastructure summit the Tories have continually suggested (to their credit) where citizens could discuss priorities in health care. But the short term re-election-in-mind way of deciding on government money and time isn't really the way to go.
A timely quote this week from filmmaker Terence Davies heard in an interview on the "Q" radio show (talking about his film about Emily Dickinson now playing at City Cinema). He said,
"Cynicism doesn't get you anywhere. It erodes you. Passion and a sense of humour are better to have." -- Terence Davies
Regarding health care, here is an op-ed piece from psychologist Susan Hartley:
SUSAN HARTLEY: Band-Aid approach to mental health
If government implements recommendations of strategy, it will be right direction
Published on Wednesday, April 19th, 201, in The Guardian
Events on P.E.I. lately have me thinking about Band-Aids. You know - we’ve all had that experience of being in a hurry, not preparing well or safely, not thinking of possible consequences - the knife slips and we cut a finger.
We grab a Band-Aid, stem the bloody flow and chastise ourselves for being so careless. But the thing is, more often than not, the Band-Aid doesn’t stick don’t you find? It gets wet and falls off or it is on an awkward joint and falls off when we use that finger.
I attended one of the recent Mothers Helping Mothers forums on mental health. Brave Island women stepped forward and told difficult and personal stories of their experiences seeking help for mental health concerns. As I listened I couldn’t help but reflect, mental health services are not supposed to make things worse.
Long waits in an emergency department without contact with a skilled mental health professional or even a compassionate frontline worker, leaving an appointment with a medical professional with no plan for follow-up, frequent changes of health providers with long waits with no plan in between, helpline calls that are not answered, feeling that your historical knowledge about your child doesn’t matter.
The historical plan for provision of mental health services in P.E.I. has included using a significant portion of the allocated budget (well below the recommended 9 per cent of the health budget) on expensive professionals - psychiatrists.
Psychiatrists may be an important part of the solution for some people facing a specific category of mental health concerns but psychiatrists are not the solution, neither for those individuals nor for the majority of mental health issues that Islanders are experiencing.
An emergency visit with a psychiatrist can be helpful if it is in the context of a system that builds resiliency and knowledge of health and wellness, has qualified health practitioners and programs that are effective and, above all, demands of its workers compassion, integrity, and a do no harm ethic. To leave an emergency psychiatric appointment with medications, and little else in hand, is like leaving an emergency department with a Band-Aid for a severed finger. Those are the Band-Aids that fall off as soon as we get home.
The current government’s approach, in my opinion, reflects reactive, hurried, just get it done decision-making that does not adequately plan for unintended consequences - that, as I mentioned above, is how harm is done. We are in possession of the hope, promise, and fine words of a new mental health and addictions strategy.
The strategy recognizes that the challenges to providing the right service, in the right place, at the right time to all Islanders are substantial and both financial and systemic. Are the government and the health service professions willing to engage in the systemic overhaul and self-evaluation that is necessary to make real changes in our mental health delivery system? Are they willing to allocate or re-direct the necessary funds to support treatments that are more than Band-Aid solutions?
If government implements the recommendations of the strategy and stays true to the goals it sets out, we'll be heading in the right direction. However, our governments have an unfortunate history of ignoring strategies or implementing changes and programs, which feel expedient but are insufficient for the co-ordinated and comprehensive long-term vision that is badly needed. We'll be keeping a close watch to make sure they follow through and get the progress that Islanders need.
- Dr. Susan Hartley is critic for health and wellness for the Green Party of P.E.I.
Lawson Drake, PhD, was the former dean of science at University of Prince Edward Island and beloved by many.
Do we have hope? We must have hope! Hope is the first response to the auguries of disaster that confront us daily. Not blind, uncomprehending hope, but hope that is grounded in a clear understanding of our present situation, hope that confronts reality.
What is the current reality? Other contributors to this book have described it far better than I could do, and from a more vast perspective of knowledge and experience. 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.”
Hope without action is futile. By what actions may we seek to realize our hope? A starting point is a concern for our fellow humans, for the myriad species with whom we share the Earth and for the
Earth itself. We must recognize and seek to alleviate poverty, inequity and want. We must show kindness and respect for our fellow species: we must not overexploit; we must replace, when possible, where we have taken away; we must seek to ameliorate and heal where we have done damage and caused hurt.
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.
Am I naive in my hope? Will I, in my lifetime, or you, dear readers, in yours, see any of my hopes fulfilled? Maybe not, but we shall have passed on in the knowledge that we sought the good, and that hope yet remains.
— Lawson Drake
April 20, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A few events in the next couple of days:
Electoral Boundaries Commission public input deadline-- 5PM. This has been the sidelined issue for many of us this Spring, with the public school review, the water act, local community annual general meetings with concerns about amalgamation all gumming up evenings when many of these public meetings were talking place. The Commission should get credit for working with social media, and for holding 14 meetings across the Island, but they could have had a final meeting in Charlottetown, or an interactive web-based one, or set open hours each week at their space in Charlottetown for drop-ins for people to see maps.
Still, if you have comments, many or few, you can look at their site and make them by 5PM today:
Environmental Studies student research projects presentations, 7PM, Confederation Centre Public Library, free. Groundwater contamination, pest management, windfarms, food security, are some of the projects mentioned.
Tomorrow, Friday, April 21st:
Engineering Expo, public welcome 1-4PM, UPEI, Sustainable Engineering Design Building (close to CARI/BellAliant/MacLauchlan Rink side of campus)
"As part of the Industry Engagement Day, there will be a keynote presentation at 5:30 pm by Dr. Peter Childs, head of the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College, London." This is all piggybacked with the Atlantic Green Expo, which runs Friday until Sunday.
Southeast Environmental Association Film Festival:
"Fish Tales" and "Last Call at the Oasis" (with Erin Brockovich), 7PM (doors open at 6:30PM). Riverhouse Inn and Cottages, 33 Brook Street, Montague. Admission $10, with bar service available, 19+ event.
Sponsored by the Southeast Environmental Association.
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM today. The afternoon, after Question Period, is Opposition time, and perhaps they will return to the Opposition Motion 58 on
"...Greater Transparency and accountability in Government", which is definitely what the opposition wanted yesterday about the sale of Mill River Resort deal. It was mentioned that the deal was negotiated on government's side led by Chief of Staff (and former Minister of Transportation and MLA for York-Oyster Bed Bridge Robert Vessey), and Deputy Minister of Finance David Arsenault.
You can watch the proceedings or look at documents on their website, here.
From The Guardian's Main Editorial this week:
EDITORIAL: Premier’s decision on reform
Premier trying to shift delays onto the Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edwad Island
Published on Saturday, April 15th, 201, in The Guardian
Premier Wade MacLauchlan is using stalling tactics to further his own agenda of delaying electoral reform.
In the legislature, the premier has offered two arguments – each trying to shift the burden of delay onto the Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edwad Island. The delay rests solely with the governing Liberals.
Last week, the premier said he wouldn’t reveal plans for his promised referendum on electoral reform until he hears what stance the PC party takes on the issue. Well, the PC Party has a stance. They want the province to proceed as directed by the plebiscite last November.
The eight-member caucus supported the plebiscite winner - mixed member proportional representation (MMP) - by a 5-3 vote. The nay votes came from districts where a majority voted for the status quo and where MLAs felt obligated to support that result.
In the PC Party, majority rules and the caucus now supports the wishes of the majority of Islanders - MMP. The premier knows this.
Mr. MacLauchlan tweaked his remarks Wednesday to suggest he wants to delay until the PCs choose their next leader and having him or her take a position. The Conservatives are holding a convention in October to replace interim leader Jamie Fox.
It’s out of character for the Liberal Party to wait on anyone else’s agenda but its own. It had no hesitation fast tracking the last provincial election to accommodate the Liberal’s leadership and election plans. It forced the Tories to move their May 2015 leadership convention into late February.
The PC caucus is looking for action now. Party spokesman Sidney MacEwen stated plainly that the PCs feel the premier should proceed without waiting for their new leader. The party has a position. They voted and want action.
So that should put an end to the premier’s self-serving arguments, unless he thinks he also knows what’s best for the Opposition?
Mr. MacEwen noted the premier didn’t care what the PC caucus thought last fall and he’s correct when he suggests Mr. MacLauchlan keeps delaying this issue until he gets the result he wants.
The premier said the legislature would decide the referendum question. Which really means that Mr. MacLauchlan will decide. He whipped his caucus on the vote last fall when all 18 Liberals voted to reject the plebiscite result and support the premier’s binding referendum plan.
But in reality, it’s not binding at all. A new government doesn’t have to accept the referendum attached to the 2019 provincial election. It was merely an olive branch extended to placate widespread anger that the plebiscite was being ignored and further delay any electoral reform taking effect until at least 2023.
The referendum will have two options; to accept the MMP plebiscite result; and another still to be decided by the legislature. It could be status quo or something else. But it will be the premier’s decision. And we know the premier prefers First-Past-the-Post.
Pardon us if we find the premier’s sudden collegial attitude towards the PC Party a little hard to accept.
Liz Hosken was director of The Gaia Foundation.
She writes the April 20th Global Chorus essay.
Creating the conditions for a future in which the entire Earth Community is able to thrive demands nothing less than a total U-turn in our thinking. It requires us, the architects of our global crises, to emphatically restore a respectful relationship with the Earth, our source of life.
To paraphrase the great Albert Einstein, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them in the first place.
Ecological and social crises will not be ameliorated by the detached, objective logic born of industrial governance and the reductive sciences. It is imperative that we change the way we see our world and our behaviour. But how do we rekindle a mutually enhancing relationship with our Earth?
Earth Jurisprudence, the philosophy of law, recognizes that Nature is our primary source of law and learning, and encourages us to align our actions with the awe-inspiring order of the universe. It nurtures in us a more expansive and generous human consciousness in which the Earth is experienced as a community of subjects who enrich our lives, rather than as a collection of objects to be exploited.
Such a transformation of our psyche will bring us back into alignment with our inner moral imperative which yearns to protect, respect and cherish Gaia, the Mother of all life, thereby ensuring the health and well-being of future generations of all species.
The great work of our time is thus the widening our circle of compassion to embrace the totality of life on Earth. Everything we require to thrive in communion once more already exists within ourselves if we are willing to be open to it.
— Liz Hosken
April 19, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Water Act draft comment period closed yesterday, and we will see what happens next; what changes have been made and how soon it is tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature. Here is the page with some consultation comments already submitted.
Yesterday during Question Period in the Legislature, the Opposition asked about particulars with phone lines and contracts, and later Minister of Finance Allan Roach made a statement about the next contract for phone services going to tender. [In the evening during Opposition time, MLA Stephen Myers pointed out this "new-found government transparency" during his speaking to Motion 58 ("In support of Greater Transparency and Accountability in Government").] Question Period was also mainly about asking Tourism Minister Health MacDonald about hidden particulars of the Mill River Golf Course deal. The Minister just shrugged off answering or answered evasively. MacDonald shot back about Dundarave golf course, then to great hooting, Polar Foods was brought up as the ultimate former P.C. fat cat boondoggle. That was now so long ago before any of the current Tories were elected. I think we could all use Polar Foods explained in short animation.
Peter Bevan-Baker asked about electoral reform and what Minister Richard Brown had said about whole package of reforms; the Premier appeared annoyed and said it would clear question and there would be debate in the Legislature.
There was an announcement about some grants for public transit in Charlottetown, and both Leader of the Third Party MLA Peter Bevan-Baker and Leader of the Opposition Critic said good, but more transit to places other than Charlottetown, as in the not too distant past, would be better. And maintaining the roads we already have, too.
The evening session was also about Motion 62, (Urging action on support for grandparents as primary care givers). The Opposition has been working for this for several years, now, and feels a Child Advocate would be money much better spent due to the range of issues they could cover and the independence from government, two specifics not about a recently announced Children's Lawyer. Many Members conveyed the emotion about seeing families in desperate situations when parents are unable to care for their children. Some mentioned that the budget surplus could be spent on this, and discussed an amendment when the budget expenditure bill goes through the House.
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM today.
Green Drinks --Summerside, 7-9PM, Dooleys.
"Green Drinks is an opportunity for informal discussion, in a casual setting. There has been lots happening both within the Green Party and in the province in general. Deputy Leader Lynne Lund and Energy Critic Steve Howard will be there and welcome a conversation on these topics." Facebook event details.
Thursday, April 20th:
Closing for comments, Electoral Boundaries Commission, details on their mandate, here.
e-mail submissions to: email@example.com
Audio-recordings of all the 14 stops, here
"Environmental Science For the rest of us!", 7PM, Confederation Centre Public Library; Current research from UPEI environmental studies students on:
Off Shore Windfarms
From over a week ago, by Hans Connor:
HANS CONNOR: Limits to growth on P.E.I.
“What manner of society do we wish to create, and what kind of people do we want to become?”
Published on Friday, April 7th, 201, in The Guardian
Thanks to David Weale’s article in The Guardian, March 10, 2017 for providing the catalyst for envisioning the future of P.E.I.
In his piece, Weale calls out the unlimited growth agenda as being both hollow and ineffective for our small island. Under this model, resources can get depleted to the point of collapse while any wealth generated flows to a financial metropolis elsewhere.
A better idea is to recognize there are limits to growth and to create a philosophy of governance from there. Thus, rather than asking how can the Island become wealthier, Weale rightly asks, “What manner of society do we wish to create, and what kind of people do we want to become?”
Here (are) some answers:
First, we need to reject the old ideas because they have not led to the results hoped for. Liberal, right-wing, progressive, who cares? These labels impede us from getting to the heart of the issues. What is development anyway? Is it only a measure of economic success? Or can a society feel better when people are contented in other ways? We need to create an Island-based philosophy rather than relying on continentally-driven prescriptions.
Then, we need to enter a phase of collective soul-searching. The idea is to ask ourselves who we are and what do we want our society to be. I suspect that our answer will be that there is more to happiness than GDP and that we prefer family farms to strip malls. Whatever the results, we would be able to use the information gleaned as the basis for a strategy built on an understanding of our own geographical and cultural attributes.
If I were correct, this would lead us toward a model of sustainable economic development that not only incorporates our cultural heritage but also is also environmentally sound.
What I’m talking about is a radical transformation whereby we pursue renewable energy and energy self-sufficiency; where we pursue food security and then apply value-added aspects such as “100 per cent organic” on our local products; where we put value on aspects of our cultural heritage such as landscapes and arts. I'm advocating transitioning to a new paradigm that is economically viable and fits our small Island culture. But, I’m also advocating a new way of thinking.
Because we live on a small island, it is easy for us to see the interconnectedness of everything in our surroundings. We know that if we take too much from our public groundwater resources for irrigation then we won’t have enough for drinking, our streams and wetlands will deteriorate, our shellfish industry will suffer, jobs will be lost and so on.
In a small island, the effects of our actions are highly visible and the tools to mitigate any problems are limited by the boundary of our shores. In continental settings, there is an illusion of limitless resources but in a small island we know that there are limits. Thus, prudent economic development policy should not involve merely resource extraction or merely the pursuit of growth at all costs.
Rather, we should pursue a model of development based on the natural reality of our island. We should transition to what is called a “blue-green” economy in order to better protect the natural environment but also for the sake of fuller employment and better public access to resources such as water or land.
In sum, my vision for Prince Edward Island is a transformation that recognizes that equal importance of economic, ecological and social characteristics; that profound collective understanding of our Island is required to discern a suitable Island vision; and that we must merge the understanding of our Island identity with interdisciplinary decision-making and ecological problem-solving in order to achieve sustainable development.
Our challenge now is to create institutional and policy frameworks that reflect the interconnectedness of our economy, ecology, social equity and cultural heritage.
- Hans Connor of Charlottetown is a labour relations officer with P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees
writes today's Global Chorus essay:
In this epoch of moving from breakdown to breakthrough, we’re being called to reimagine civilization in the Age of Nature.
The Mayan people call this epic threshold the “Time of No Time.” Ohki Siminé Forest, a Canadian wisdom keeper of Mohawk descent, describes it this way:
From here on, we’re on Earth time. Mother Earth is shaking to her core. It’s a time of madness, disconnection and hyperindividualism. It’s also a time when new energies are coming into the world, when people are growing a new skin.
The Mayan vision says that we in the West will find safe harbour only if we can journey past a wall of mirrors. The mirrors will surely drive us mad – unless we have a strong heart. Some mirrors delude us with an infinity of reflections of our vanity and
shadows. Others paralyze us with our terror and rage, feeding an empire that manufactures our fear into resignation.
But the empire has no roots and it’s toppling all around us. In this time everyone is called to take a stand. Everyone is called to be a leader.
To get beyond the wall of mirrors, the final challenge is to pass through a tiny door. To do this, we must make ourselves very, very small. To be very humble. Then we must burrow down into the Earth, where indigenous consciousness lives. On the other side is a clear pond. There, for the first time, we’ll be able to see our true reflection.
In this Time of No Time, we can go in any direction we want – by dreaming it. Our dreaming can shift the course of the world.
That’s our deepest well of resilience. The dreams are already within us. One day we may awaken to find ourselves living in our wildest dreams.
— Kenny Ausubel
April 18, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today is the last day to comment on the Water Act draft, here.
The PEI Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM today.
You can watch here: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/video/video.php
and to check what Motions or Bills they are discussing, go to House Records, here.
The Progressive Conservative Caucus has increased its social media presence on their Facebook page (and by some of the members), and their link could be one of the first places to go to see their wrap-up of Question Period and such, at about 5PM or later. They also post on issues they are commenting on, like a carbon tax, and the rather "mystery novel" way it has been presented to Islanders.
No mysterious words, from American climate change fighting 350.org's founder, Bill McKibben.
Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet - The Guardian (UK) article by Bill McKibben
Published on Monday, April 17th, 2017
Donald Trump is a creep and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite when it comes to climate change
Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.
Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.
But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in Washington.
Not rhetorically: Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too – it was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).
But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.
Last month, speaking at a Houston petroleum industry gathering, he got a standing ovation from the oilmen for saying: “No country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.”
Yes, 173bn barrels is indeed the estimate for recoverable oil in the tar sands. So let’s do some math. If Canada digs up that oil and sells it to people to burn, it will produce, according to the math whizzes at Oil Change International, 30% of the carbon necessary to take us past the 1.5C target that Canada helped set in Paris.
That is to say, Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.
This having-your-cake-and-burning-it-too is central to Canada’s self-image/energy policy. McKenna, confronted by Canada’s veteran environmentalist David Suzuki, said tartly: “We have an incredible climate change plan that includes putting a price on carbon pollution, also investing in clean innovation. But we also know we need to get our natural resources to market and we’re doing both.” Right.
But doing the second negates the first – in fact, it completely overwhelms it. If Canada is busy shipping carbon all over the world, it wouldn’t matter all that much if every Tim Horton’s stopped selling doughnuts and started peddling solar panels instead.
Canada’s got company in this scam. Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull is supposed to be more sensitive than his predecessor, a Trump-like blowhard. When he signed on his nation to the Paris climate accords, he said: “It is clear the agreement was a watershed, a turning point and the adoption of a comprehensive strategy has galvanised the international community and spurred on global action.”
Which is a fine thing to say – or would be, if your government wasn’t backing plans for the largest coal mine on Earth. That single mine, in a country of 24 million people, will produce 362% of the annual carbon emissions that everyone in the Philippines produces in the course of a year. It is obviously, mathematically and morally absurd.
Trump, of course, is working just as eagerly to please the fossil fuel industry – he’s instructed the Bureau of Land Management to make permitting even easier for new oil and gas projects, for instance. And frackers won’t even have to keep track of how much methane they’re spewing under his new guidelines. And why should they? If you believe, as Trump apparently does, that global warming is a delusion, a hoax, a mirage, you might as well get out of the way.
Trump’s insulting the planet, in other words. But at least he’s not pretending otherwise.
The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet is featured in the April 18th Global Chorus article, selected from essays and speeches he wrote or gave in the 1990s, but seem pretty timeless.
These days, the environment – the source of life for all beings in the world, including Tibet, the Land of Snows – is undergoing extensive degeneration. At this time it is extremely important that every human being, according to his or her ability, consistently puts effort into ensuring the conservation and protection of this planet’s environment and its inhabitants. …
Peace and the survival of life on Earth as we know it are threatened by human activities which lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of Nature and Nature resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the Earth’s living things.
This lack of respect extends even to Earth’s human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality and if destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate. …
I feel it is extremely important that each individual realize their responsibility for preserving the environment, to make it a part of daily life, create the same attitude in their families, and spread it to the community.
Because of the material wealth and resulting environmental problems seen in the West, some people say we need to discard the modern way of life. But I feel this is a bit extreme. We must use wisdom and understanding to tackle this ecological problem. I am very happy there are so many experts from different fields to inform the discussions of these issues. …
When you say environment, or preservation of environment, it is related with many things. Ultimately the decision must come from the human heart, isn’t that right? So I think the key point is a genuine sense of universal responsibility which is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.
If we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility as the central motivation and principle, then from that direction our relations with the environment will be well balanced. Similarly with every aspect of relationships, our relations with our neighbours – our family neighbours or our country neighbours – will be balanced from that direction.4
— His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
And to be perfectly balanced, Gary Evans of The Four Tellers' infamous The Dalai Lama (Lawrence MacAulay) story, on YouTube, from a couple of years ago.
April 17, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Though today is still mostly a holiday and fairly quiet, here are some dates this week:
The PEI Legislature sits Tuesday and Thursday, 2-5PM and 7-9PM, Wednesday afternoon 2-5PM only, and Friday 10AM-1PM.
Besides Question Period each day, and some legislation and motions, going through the Budget estimates department by department will likely continue. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is done, and part of Tourism. (It's hard for the mere spectator to tell in what order of the departments will go, since it isn't alphabetical.) With each Department, the Ministers and often a department financial person will field questions from MLAs, which can be illuminating about what priorities are and where tax dollars go.
Tuesday, April 18th:
Water Act Consultation input deadline is tomorrow. Presumably this means midnight, or at the most, 5PM. (we'll check)
Consider briefly commenting on: ban on fracking, high capacity wells, limits to extraction, nitrates in our groundwater, etc.
Conversation for the Common Good -- Meetup and Networking Series, 5PM, Upstreet Brewery, 41 Allen Street, Charlottetown.
Business has the power to solve many of the problems that exist in our communities, but the way it's done has to change, and we can’t change it alone. Join the PEI Business Women's Association and Common good Solutions at Upstreet Craft Brewery to learn about Social Enterprise: what it is, how it can be used as a tool for change in your community, who on PEI is already using this business model and the resources available to help bring your idea to life. from:
Thursday, April 20th:
Electoral Boundaries Commission public comments due, 5PM.
This has been really hard to get excited about, and harder still for some of us to get to the fairly generous 14 meetings across the Island. Still, some issues like the one in Crapaud being the same night as the Crapaud town annual general community meeting, rife with tax concerns and uncertainties about amalgamation. You can guess why only a few people showed up. Another Charlottetown meeting -- this time a drop-in anything over a specific time period -- at the end of the consultation process would have been a gesture of outreach during a very busy month.
Friday, April 21st:
First Macphail Woods Owl Prowl, 7:30PM, Macphail Woods, Orwell. Hosted by ECO-PEI.
Budget musings from Gary Naylor:
LETTER: Robbing Peter to pay Paul? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
I think I may have this straight. The P.E.I. government's recent budget announced with great fanfare, the first budget surplus in 10 years, consisting of a surplus of $600,000.
This due in large part to a federal grant of several million dollars to allow the province make infrastructure announcements.
What puzzles me somewhat is that while the federal money allows P.E.I. to have a balanced budget, the federal government giving the money to P.E.I. has a $30 billion deficit.
It is lucky that we did not close any schools recently as it looks to me that there is a lot of arithmetic and accountability needing to be taught to the political classes of this country.
Gary Naylor, Victoria West
Vivienne Westwood is a British fashion designer, human and environmental rights activist, and founder of the Climate Revolution website, where she shares interviews and her no-nonsense journal entries.
If we don’t stop climate change now, we will have runaway climate change which will accelerate beyond our control. It will eventually stop at a temperature so hot that if you were to draw a line level with Paris, the land below that line will be too hot to live in. There will be mass extinction of all life, including us.
The first thing we need to know is what’s going on, how it all fits together and how we fit in. Then we will know what to do. Climate change is caused by our rotten financial system. This system is designed to create mass poverty and to siphon off any profits for a few, namely big business.
This system is backed up by politics and by war. Everything is connected – the power structure needs its victims to prove its power and maintain it. Culture is especially important. We live in a global consumer society – no matter how poor you are, this is the ethic. Consumers just suck things up, whereas true culture is acquired by investing in the world, by learning all the best that has ever been shown, thought and said. From this you review and criticize all the received opinions and stock notions (propaganda) of the present age. Armed with knowledge, you think. You get out what you put in. Go to art galleries, find out the names of trees, read, etc. You will get off the consumer treadmill and change your values and aspirations.
Two things that are practical to do: support Greenpeace in its campaign to save the Arctic, and support Cool Earth in its campaign to save the rainforest.
We need to get out on the streets and campaign, therefore, because it’s all connected – demonstrate whenever you can with specific NGOs in the hope that we can all group together in global demonstrations where everything is connected.
Climate Revolution! “Get a Life.”
— Vivienne Westwood
April 16, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, who wrote this wonderful essay (below) for the April 16th entry of the Global Chorus anthology, was Minister of Environment for the nation of Costa Rica about a decade ago. In the following link of an article, he describes the time while Minister when he got lost in Corcovado National Park and was attacked by a tapir. This interview is with the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) -- Species Survival Commission--affiliated Tapir Specialist Group:
He is currently vice-president of Conservation International. His bio page on CI's website.
Essay from Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, edited by Todd E. MacLean, very applicable to P.E.I. as to any other place in the world:
Definitely humanity can overcome the current global socio-environmental challenges. We need to recognize that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing our global natural capital as the resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of – and essential requirements for – sustainable development. To achieve the above we need to:
1. promote sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities and raising basic standards of living;
2. foster equitable social development and inclusion; and
3. promote integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems that supports, inter alia, economic, social and human development while facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration and restoration and resilience in the face of new and emerging challenges.
My country, Costa Rica, is a good example of a nation that has committed to a new development path where all development policies must rely on a healthy natural capital. In the last 25 years, Costa Rica has tripled its income per capita and doubled its population while halting deforestation and doubling the forested area – proving that growth and social development can go hand in hand with ambitious conservation and restoration targets. This effort in protecting our natural capital has generated economic and business opportunities based on our condition as a global biodiversity hotspot. In Costa Rica, ecotourism and nature-based tourism are the main drivers of economic growth, generating $2.2-billion annually to the local economy. Locally, farmers and indigenous communities are being paid for the various environmental services provided by their forest in terms of carbon, water and biodiversity. This innovative financial mechanism known as payments for environmental services* addresses market failures where environmental contributions are overlooked, and recognizes the value and contribution of Nature to human well-being and economic growth. Lessons coming from Costa Rica in terms of innovative sustainable development policies and tools can indeed contribute to abate global challenges related to climate change and loss of biodiversity and freshwater stocks.
The shift towards a new development model must rely on respect for all human rights – including the right to development, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to food – and must also hinge upon the importance of freedom, peace and security, the rule of law, gender equality and women’s empowerment and the overall commitment to just and democratic societies for development.
— Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
*Payment for Ecosystem Services seems to be the term used now.
Conservation International (CI) is the group that (among many other things) produces the Nature is Speaking series of short films [with stunning photography and narration of the particular "Voices of Nature" by actors such as Julia Roberts as Mother Nature, Harrison Ford (who happens to be a long-serving Vice Chair of CI) as The Ocean, etc.]. Here is the link to the films, if you want to settle in, pass the Easter candy, and watch these.
April 15, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown and Summerside, and both locations will very likely have locally made Easter treats.
Bonshaw FIsherman's Breakfast, is going on now until 1PM this afternoon, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road, Bonshaw (off the TransCanada Highway), $8 adults, not sure of child rate, proceeds for a scholarship, in memory of Matt Murphy. Allevents.in listing
The province announced this week that it's starting a local, healthy food project in three Island schools. Kellys Cross-Cumberland MLA Peter Bevan-Baker supports this as a good first step. And Brad Trivers (Opposition MLA, Rustico-Emerald) had also been consistently bringing up local food procurement for all Island institutions, and "gets" that this is not likely a way government will save any money, but it supports so many good things that it is the right thing to do. Some video clips are on Trivers' Facebook page
A Local Food Act is due out this Fall.
Trivers also spoke in the Legislature this week about what CSAs are (community supported agriculture ventures) and described one of the ones he is in, and mentioned the PEI Food Exchange link of CSAs that Pauline Howard keeps up to date.
This blog posting by a farming couple in Nova Scotia (Bryon and Shannon, Broadfork Farm) is definitely worth the read (if you can ignore the goofy subtitles font) and mentions a lot of buying local, and what happens when food crosses interprovincial lines (they farm in NS but often sell at a New Brunswick farmers' market. They also mention the April 21st CFIA deadline for Canadians to comment on the Safe Food For Canadians Regulations and the Canadian Organic Regulations. Many interesting details to think about:
Svein Tveitdal was director of Klima2020 and a former UN Environmental director. Here is four-minute Vimeo interview with him about climate change from the "Choosing 2Lead" sustainable business leaders interview series. He writes the April 15th Global Chorus essay.
Whenever danger threatens, we tend to quickly pull down the blinds and settle for comfortable, shortterm “business as usual” solutions. This represents a dire risk of failure. Serious climate changes are no doubt the greatest threat that humanity faces. Global warming will most likely exceed 2°C above pre-industrial times. This represents the very threshold world leaders have decided that we should not cross. Regrettably, they have not proved able to produce a climate policy that makes 2°C a likely limit. And yet, even at this level of global warming, as much as 30 per cent of the world’s species may disappear. Judging from today’s rate of emissions, a 4°C increase during this century is not inconceivable. This scenario is truly a formula for a climate disaster that no doubt will threaten the very existence of humankind.
If we want to protect future generations from catastrophic climate changes, 80 per cent of all known resources of coal, oil and gas must remain in the ground. Today’s societies have at their disposal five times the amount of fossil energy that is safe to burn. Although these reserves, technically speaking, still remain in the ground, they are, economically speaking, already in use. They are embedded in stock prices, and companies borrow money on their value. We can have companies in healthy balance, or we can have a comparatively healthy planet. But we cannot have both.
Of course there is hope, and we are able! But we must ensure that renewable energy gets cheaper than fossil energy, thereby making the market the very engine of the green shift. Today, fossil energy receives subsidies of more than 500 billion dollars annually, or more than six times the allocations to renewable energy. World leaders should agree on cutting subsidies from fossil energy and increase the support of renewable energy accordingly, thus truly boosting a rapid green shift. When we succeed in establishing a truly global grassroots movement, we will have the necessary power to combat the fossil industries’ pollution before it is too late. But time is running out fast. With today’s rapid rate of emissions, we – humanity – will have spent within the next 25–30 years the carbon budget that limits global warming to 2°C.
— Svein Tveitdal
April 14, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
From East Coast Environmental Law (ECELAW)'s blog this week, bold is mine:
PEI Water Act: Let's Get it Right - East Coast Environmental Law online blog
Published on-line on April 12th, 2017
The proposed PEI Water Act has been a long time coming for citizens on Prince Edward Island. A province that draws all of its water supply from ground water sources and supports a significant agricultural industry needs to be fully aware of the state of their water and the potential impacts today’s choices will have on future Islanders. The government has followed a robust public engagement plan to develop the draft Act, culminating in the release of a full draft version of Act, with supporting information pieces. Citizens on PEI have stepped up to offer their time and expertise to review and comment on the draft. Unfortunately, after providing an excellent consultation process the PEI government is now rushing the final phase of consultation with less than a month for comments and only four in-person sessions.
ECELAW has been adding our support and expertise to the process though the PEI Environmental Rights Working Group and the Coalition for Protection of PEI Water. Our experience with law reform, drafting environmental laws and public engagement runs deep. The proposed Water Act has great potential with the seeds of a solid purpose section, hints at a right to clean water, and opportunities for watershed planning. However, as a legislative drafter I see a multitude of improvements that could be made to create a law that is more coherent, continues to engage the public and ensures that the Minister has the authority necessary to carry out the goals of the Act.
ECELAW urges the government of PEI to take advantage of the expertise that exists within its citizenry and the non-profit organizations that support them. We recommend that the government host a round table session of participants with relevant knowledge and expertise to complete a clause by clause review of the draft Act as part of the public consultation process. The volunteer sector and the contribution they make to society is vastly underrated and undervalued, just like the environment.
Lisa Mitchell, MES, LL.B
Executive Director at East Coast Environmental Law
Here is some very disturbing news about persistent methane polluting of water related to fracking.
This study was just published in Nature Geoscience. http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v10/n4/full/ngeo2919.html
Mobility and persistence of methane in groundwater in a controlled-release field experiment - Nature Geoscience article by Aaron G. Cahill et. al.
Aaron G. Cahill, et. al,
Nature Geoscience, Vol. 10, Pages 289-99; receieved October 2016, published March 2017
Expansion of shale gas extraction has fuelled global concern about the potential impact of fugitive methane on groundwater and climate. Although methane leakage from wells is well documented, the consequences on groundwater remain sparsely studied and are thought by some to be minor. Here we present the results of a 72-day methane gas injection experiment into a shallow, flat-lying sand aquifer. In our experiment, although a significant fraction of methane vented to the atmosphere, an equal portion remained in the groundwater. We find that methane migration in the aquifer was governed by subtle grain-scale bedding that impeded buoyant free-phase gas flow and led to episodic releases of free-phase gas. The result was lateral migration of gas beyond that expected by groundwater advection alone. Methane persisted in the groundwater zone despite active growth of methanotrophic bacteria, although much of the methane that vented into the vadose zone was oxidized. Our findings demonstrate that even small-volume releases of methane gas can cause extensive and persistent free phase and solute plumes emanating from leaks that are detectable only by contaminant hydrogeology monitoring at high resolution.
Pretty strong evidence-based science.....
Word that Transcontinental publishers has sold The Guardian and The Journal-Pioneer among its other Atlantic Canada publications to Saltwire Network. Saltwire owns The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, whose employees have been on a lengthy strike. Here is an open letter from the new publisher, Mark Lever.
Pam Cooley is a social entrepreneur and founder of the Continuum of Collaboration and CarShare Atlantic. She wrote the April 14th Global Chorus essay. Here is a very short video on her and the business from a while back the on-line Chronicle-Herald.
Humanity is dependent on the Earth and its resources. On this planet “we grow it, mine it, fish it, drink it and breathe it” – that’s all we have to work with! How we do those things are indicators of humanity’s collective intelligence and our values. I believe we can do better.
I think the survival of humanity depends directly on humans learning “collaboration” instead of the old paradigm of “power over” Nature or other humans. My friend Maggie, who grew up on a farm, has the best definition of collaboration. It is “people coming together to achieve for the benefit of themselves and others.” I believe collaboration is the new “survival of the fittest.”
True collaboration requires us to recognize “interdependence,” meaning we are part of this massive system of interconnectedness where everything that exists is dependent on something or someone else. Collaboration requires us to recognize that our existence is an intricately woven tapestry of everything in our lives. Interdependence means that everything we do affects others and they affect us. Our understanding and scope of interdependence has grown with the evolution of technologies. We now live in a global interdependence because of technology.
All of us have our legitimate experiences, knowledge, perspectives, desires and fears. If this is true, then no person, group or country has the whole picture of anything. No person, group or country has the answer. We all have a piece of the answer. That’s why we need to collaborate!
Our existence has always depended on collaboration and innovation; the difference now is that the effects we have are now global. We have a choice. We can collaborate with the resources the Earth provides or we can fight each other for them. If we fight, it will be our demise.
What do we need to become “collaboration ready”? I think it always comes down to personal daily choices.
Whether humanity survives is not the question for me. We don’t know the future. What matters is, how am I “being with” myself, with others and with the Earth? Am I being kind? How am I making decisions? Am I ready to collaborate or am I ready to fight? Do I work well with others?
Hope implies that one has a combination of information and faith that leads to a positive outcome. Every day, I witness these human qualities. I am sure you do too.
— Pam Cooley
April 13, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last night was the final public consultation for the Water Act draft. The Winter River Watershed Group, ECO-PEI, and Catherine O'Brien for the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water spoke, and there were lively questions from the audience. Ann Wheatley on behalf of ECO-PEI emphasized how much work has gone into groups digging through the 38-page legislation; and many who spoke or asked questions emphasized that a ban on fracking should be in this Act somehow. Most also felt that the process had been very open but it was just too rushed in this stage.
Any written submission (or any way, the always engaging Minister Mitchell suggested, such as "calling, writing or wrapping a submission around a rock and throwing it") are accepted until Tuesday, April 18th. The minister said the new version that would go to the Legislature (they hope the end of the month or early May), incorporating any changes from these consultations, would be available on-line; and he emphasized repeatedly that much will be addressed in the regulations. But I think the people there know that enshrining it in the legislation is the primary way to protect what we want to protect.
Many of the presentations from members of the Coalition for the Protection of Water groups in this round of consultations can be found here: https://peiwater.com/
Don Desserud, professor of political science at UPEI, moderated the discussion very well. And he just happened to have an article about another major area he has been involved in, electoral reform on P.E.I., published recently.
Dedan Gills is a self-described “soulutionary” and co-founder of Growing a Global Heart.
They say there ain’t no hope for the youth but the truth is there ain’t no hope for the future. — Tupac Shakur, Urban Poet and Purveyor of Inconvenient Truths
The late Tupac Shakur could not have been more prophetic. There is no hope for the future unless humanity wakes up to its great calling. Never before in the history of our planet has the future of all life been imperilled as it is today. Scientists and various other experts all agree that the way we ravage the environment and each other is the reason we find ourselves in such dire straits. Ironically, therein lies both the opportunity and the challenge. The challenge is clear. The opportunity is that we will wake up in time to reverse our violent and bloody history of war, hatred and environmental degradation.
I see humanity entering into a period of conscious and intentional withdrawal from the hypnotic influence of modern, consumer-based culture. I see this new awakening led and inspired by the marginalized and disenfranchised people of the Earth. Many of them are already teaching us how to live like the forest that recycles itself and lives forever.
I see humanity declaring peace and ending our ancient war with ourselves, our beloved biosphere, and each other. I see us planting millions of trees across the Earth and having ceremonies and rituals that honour the spirit and memory of the dead and vanquished we have left in our bloody and tragic wake. I see us building new and qualitative relationships with each other and the planet as we lower the level of deadly carbon and raise the levels of love, compassion and community.
As we stand in silence amongst the trees in these tree-planting ceremonies, I see our tears of sadness and joy moistening the soil of our common humanity and germinating seeds of compassion, mercy and forgiveness that will blossom in a way that heals our collective suffering.
We are children of the stars and the Earth is our home! Yes, there is hope and it has already been born.
— Dedan Gills
April 12, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Water Act draft public consultations -- last scheduled meeting, 7PM Pooles Corner, (Kaylee Hall). Comments from the public close Tuesday, April 18th.
During Opposition Evening in the P.E.I. Legislature last night -- some good Motions on requesting a passport office (passed with Government's "friendly amendment" to include an immigration office and BDC office), and some confusion but settling on another Motion (No. 30) introduced a year ago, requesting a fire services review (which was adjourned after Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie spoke to it for a while). The remaining half-hour or so was about Peter Bevan-Baker's Private Member's Bill (No. 103) Election Age Act, which would reduce the voting age (and age to be elected as an MLA) to 16 from 18. There was interest (though the evening had had a lot of "musical chairs" and chatting among the MLAs), and good questions as it seemed to take some by surprise. A seasoned Liberal cabinet minister reacted strongly (and apparently negatively) at the prospect of 16 years olds sitting next to her in the Chamber; this was watched by a seasoned 16 year old sitting next to me in the Gallery, as we watched the seasoned, calm and hard-working teenage Pages doing their job....debate was adjourned for the evening when the hour was called.
Lots of govt announcements yesterday, including a local, healthy food pilot program for three schools.
Richard Raiswell's Monday political commentary on the school closures drama from CBC Radio:
5 and a half minutes
Today is the last sitting of Legislature until Tuesday after Easter, is today from 2-5PM. Home page of Legislative Assembly website.
B.K.S. Iyengar, who died in late 2014, was a yogi, author, and founder of Iyengar Yoga. About Iyengar Yoga He wrote the April 12th Global Chorus essay.
I am a yoga student and a teacher, and as such it is my duty to guide those who come to me to learn how to keep this God-given body and consciousness in a state of sanctity. This understanding and the method to progress is hidden in the yogika discipline, in which students must keep their external environments clean in order to keep their internal sheaths – namely the physical, physiological and moral – healthily surrounded.
I am also an optimist, and as such I believe that the present fear of global environmental and social crises must evaporate sooner or later.
No doubt the present-day attitudes of money-making people is to amass, and amass with no respect to their fellow beings. But like the spokes of the wheel that go down and come up, so is the life of the universe: that which goes down has to raise up. I believe in this, and that wisdom will dawn on those who exploit Mother Earth – as this exploitation will only come back to affect their own survival – and our collective survival.
— B.K.S. Iyengar
April 11, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM at the Coles Building, entry on the ground floor to go sit in the Gallery. You will need to show photo identification.
You can watch from home on Eastlink TV or here:
There may be the start of reviewing a department's budget, or perhaps working on a bill already introduced -- like the Archives and Records one (Bill No. 61) started on last week, or perhaps this evening (as Tuesday Evenings the order is set by the Opposition) an Opposition Motion or Peter Bevan-Baker's Bill No. 103, Election Age Act, which would lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years. Bills and Motions are listed with House Records, here.
The Water Act draft meeting was packed last night. Not surprisingly, as people were not preoccupied with school closure meetings or bad weather and many realize that the comment period is closing (next Tuesday). A welcome and comments by the Minister Robert Mitchell, a good summary of bill by Division of Environment Director Jim Young, six interesting presentations (Federation of Agriculture, P.E.I. Potato Board, Dr. Don Mazer, National Farmers Union, Mr. Omar Kandall (who wanted to brand the Island by exporting high-end bottled water, and expressed his disappointment with the ban on it in the draft Act),and Marie Burge from Cooper Institute. Many interesting questions from the public, which the Minister answered -- he mostly heard people want fracking banned, and aren't sure the of the process, but want the regulations to be publicly examined before approval.
The final public meeting is Wednesday, April 12th, 7PM at Kaylee Hall at Pooles Corner, Roseneath.
A very interesting blog post on why rural people are stuck with so-so internet, from Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers in his own blog, from this weekend:
This is long but worth the read:
HANS CONNOR: Limits to growth on P.E.I. - The Guardian Opinion piece by Hans Connor
“What manner of society do we wish to create, and what kind of people do we want to become?”
Published on Thursday, April 7th, 2017
Thanks to David Weale’s article in The Guardian, March 10, 2017 for providing the catalyst for envisioning the future of P.E.I.
In his piece, Weale calls out the unlimited growth agenda as being both hollow and ineffective for our small island. Under this model, resources can get depleted to the point of collapse while any wealth generated flows to a financial metropolis elsewhere. A better idea is to recognize there are limits to growth and to create a philosophy of governance from there. Thus, rather than asking how can the Island become wealthier, Weale rightly asks, “What manner of society do we wish to create, and what kind of people do we want to become?” Here some answers: First, we need to reject the old ideas because they have not led to the results hoped for. Liberal, right-wing, progressive, who cares? These labels impede us from getting to the heart of the issues. What is development anyway? Is it only a measure of economic success? Or can a society feel better when people are contented in other ways? We need to create an Island-based philosophy rather than relying on continentally-driven prescriptions. Then, we need to enter a phase of collective soul-searching. The idea is to ask ourselves who we are and what do we want our society to be. I suspect that our answer will be that there is more to happiness than GDP and that we prefer family farms to strip malls. Whatever the results, we would be able to use the information gleaned as the basis for a strategy built on an understanding of our own geographical and cultural attributes. If I were correct, this would lead us toward a model of sustainable economic development that not only incorporates our cultural heritage but also is also environmentally sound. What I’m talking about is a radical transformation whereby we pursue renewable energy and energy self-sufficiency; where we pursue food security and then apply value-added aspects such as “100 per cent organic” on our local products; where we put value on aspects of our cultural heritage such as landscapes and arts. I'm advocating transitioning to a new paradigm that is economically viable and fits our small Island culture. But, I’m also advocating a new way of thinking. Because we live on a small island, it is easy for us to see the interconnectedness of everything in our surroundings. We know that if we take too much from our public groundwater resources for irrigation then we won’t have enough for drinking, our streams and wetlands will deteriorate, our shellfish industry will suffer, jobs will be lost and so on. In a small island, the effects of our actions are highly visible and the tools to mitigate any problems are limited by the boundary of our shores. In continental settings, there is an illusion of limitless resources but in a small island we know that there are limits. Thus, prudent economic development policy should not involve merely resource extraction or merely the pursuit of growth at all costs. Rather, we should pursue a model of development based on the natural reality of our island. We should transition to what is called a “blue-green” economy in order to better protect the natural environment but also for the sake of fuller employment and better public access to resources such as water or land. In sum, my vision for Prince Edward Island is a transformation that recognizes that equal importance of economic, ecological and social characteristics; that profound collective understanding of our Island is required to discern a suitable Island vision; and that we must merge the understanding of our Island identity with interdisciplinary decision-making and ecological problem-solving in order to achieve sustainable development. Our challenge now is to create institutional and policy frameworks that reflect the interconnectedness of our economy, ecology, social equity and cultural heritage. - Hans Connor of Charlottetown is a labour relations officer with P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees----------------------------
Carolyn Kraft is a blogger at oceanwildthings.com and writes today's Global Chorus essay.
Today we spend more time looking at our phones than at the natural world around us. Yet the natural world is the very reason we can wake up every day and look at those tiny, glowing screens. Earth provides us with everything we need to live … fresh water, food and shelter, spiritual and emotional sustenance. Just think of the last time you watched the ocean’s waves roll in, witnessed a breathtaking sunset or hiked through the woods and felt at peace.
Despite the fact that our planet provides us with all the necessary ingredients to support life, we go about our daily lives with an air of indifference. We’ve lost sight of the fact that Earth is a living, breathing system that we fully rely on to survive. Not a day goes by that we don’t use Earth’s resources to sustain us. The question is, what are we doing to help sustain Earth?
Moving forward, we all must embrace a caretaker mentality. It’s the little things we do on a consistent basis that have a positive ripple effect on our planet. Picking up trash in our communities prevents it from being washed into local waterways and the ocean where it harms wildlife. Eating sustainable seafood keeps ocean ecosystems healthy and marine life populations thriving for future generations. Using reusable totes for shopping reduces waste and prevents plastic bags from ending up in the environment. So let’s spend more time being caretakers and less time on our phones! As we take action we’ll inspire others to join us leading to bigger changes.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the current global environmental and social crises we face, but as caretakers we can never lose hope. Where there’s hope, there’s fire and a burning desire for circumstances to improve and things to change. Our hope fuels visions of a different and better way of living, which in turn sustains possibilities for a brighter future that wouldn’t be achievable otherwise. You hold your vision and I’ll hold mine and together we’ll create something beautiful.
— Carolyn Kraft, blogger at oceanwildthings.com
April 10, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The following was adapted from an e-mail sent to folks on a list for the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, if it looks familiar sent to you today. Any errors are my own.
The first draft of the P.E.I. government's Water Act is out and government wants to move it quickly to the floor of the Provincial Legislature, which started its Spring Sitting last week.
There have been two of the four public meetings on it last week (Westisle Composite School and in Summerside) and the final two meetings are this week:
Tonight: Monday, April 10th, 7-9PM, Charlottetown: Murphy Community Centre, 200 Richmond Street.
Wednesday, April 12th, 7-9PM, Pooles Corner (outside Montague): Kaylee Hall.
The public is welcome!! Please attend one of these if you can. Each will feature some individuals or organizations commenting, in ten minute segments, and apparently plenty of time for questions from people in the audience to Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell and his staff.
Presenters Monday include: Cooper Institute, the National Farmers Union (District 1), a watershed group, Dr. Don Mazer, and some other agriculture organizations.
Presenters Wednesday include the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water and Don't Frack PEI.
Here are two links. The first is the website of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water. There are links to other presentations from some Coalition member groups on the Coalition's webpage, including Gary Schneider's. Good reading.
The second webpage link is one of the government's on the proposed Water Act. It has links to the Act draft itself and other resources, and the ways to submit comments. Lots of links and info.
The Water Act draft is an almost 40-plus piece of legislation, so it's been slow going through, even for people with background in environment or environmental law work. There are positives in it, and some gaps -- Gary Schneider's submission to the government on his concerns (see in the Coalition's link) is a readable and comprehensive essay.
Some notes from others:
The Act draft does try to look ahead, and it does prohibit the bottling of groundwater for export sale.
The draft Act does not prohibit fracking or prohibit groundwater to be used for fracking.
It does not directly ban the drilling of new wells for agricultural purposes, which you may recall is the issue the Coalition was formed around.
Some groups are very concerned about the lack of specifics in protecting and improving the quality of groundwater from nitrates and other contaminants.
The government is passing out an information sheet and have been tweeting that there is plenty of water available on P.E.I. (assertions which were clearly disputed by many groups in the Standing Committee hearings and during public presentations hosted by the Environmental Advisory Council about 18-24 months ago).
Many details are supposed to come in the Regulations, but details are not clear now.
Timeline of process:
After these two public meetings this week, the public has until Tuesday, April 18th, to make submissions by the government consultation page (see government link, above), e-mail or postal mail. You can e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> and carbon copy Minister Mitchell at <email@example.com>
Any revisions they choose to do from public consultation will be incorporated, and the Water Act will be tabled in the Legislature, and possibly go through First, Second and Third Reading, and be voted on, in the next month or so. (This plan could change.)
Then the Department of Communities, Land and Environment works on the Regulations for the Act. There will be public consultation meetings on these, too. Likely next spring but possibly sooner.
Tonight is also a City of Charlottetown Council meeting (7PM, second floor of City Hall on Queen Street), and they may deal with the application of Holland College to purchase the buildings around Grafton and Cumberland to demolish them and build College residences. Recent CBC story here. There are several lower income rental units and two businesses on the busy street corner. The residents are organizing and have asked those who wish to support them to contact the Mayor and councillors (contact info here).
Presumably, Mayor Clifford Lee, who is listed as "Environmental Services Administrator" in the Facilities Management Department of Holland College, will recuse himself from the discussion and vote.
Geologist Peter Croal is an environment and development educator, and writes today's Global Chorus. Here is a link to a review of his research work.
We have all witnessed at some time in our lives the incredible sight of thousands of birds or fish suddenly changing direction and flying or swimming in a new direction. How do they do this so quickly and why? The answer to this question is central to our own planetary destiny.
We are all too aware of the environmental challenges that face humanity today. The Earth has started to tweet messages that we are now paying attention to. These tweets come in the form of increased weather events, health issues and overall quality of life indicators. We are listening and responding.
The Stockholm Resilience Centre has identified nine planetary boundaries that sustain life on Earth. Three of these boundaries have been exceeded, including carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, phosphorus in our soils and water, and loss of biodiversity. Ocean acidification and access to drinking water are two boundaries that will be exceeded next. We know that our species will not survive into the next millennium if we continue on this path.
However, similar to the fish and birds that change direction in response to a threat, people the world over are starting to alter their behaviour. There are over 150,000 organizations in the world devoted to environmental protection; companies are discovering that respecting environmental boundaries is good for community relations and profits; and governments in many countries are shifting to green economy practices.
This incredible blue planet, third from our particular sun, is a perfect crucible to create life, and it has done so for over three billion years. People, in all their wonderful varieties of cultures, lifestyles and practices, are central to the kinds of life that will exist on Earth in the future.
The shift to a more sustainable future is happening. But, to make a more rapid shift in resp0nse to the threats we face – similar to the birds and fish we have watched – we need to take to heart an ancient saying from the Hopi tribe of the United States of America: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
— Peter Croal
April 9, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Georgetown Celebrates, 2:30PM, I am not sure he precise location, but you will find it. Celebrating that the Georgetown School says open.
Water Act public consultation, 7PM, Murphy Centre. A great line-up of presenters (National Farmers Union, Don't Frack PEI, Don Mazer, a watershed group and some agricultural groups I think)
Wednesday, April 12th:
Water Act Public Consultation, 7PM, Kaylee Hall in Pooles Corner, near Montague. The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water will be presenting, among others.
It would be good if people could come to one or both of these to show interest. Consider presenting (Wednesday still has spots or they could add another day) if you want to speak to the Minister and a couple of people from the Department of Communities, Land and Environment. Written Submissions can be sent in until Tuesday, April 18th.
From Marie Burge, in The Guardian on Saturday, April 10th, 2017 -- perhaps needs a question mark?
LETTER: Reasonable time to study document - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Cooper Institute repeats a concern made on a number of occasions over the past year. Now it's about the proposed new Water Act: Why the rush?
As on other occasions e.g. the electoral reform plebiscite and the School Closing plan, we have said that the P.E.I. government is giving a bad name to its own consultations.
When you rush public consultations we ask: Are you implying that the issues at hand are not important or are you saying that the people’s knowledge and opinions are not important?
Or are you saying both of the above? We say again: no government can afford to add to Islanders’ long-held mistrust of government consultations. To be fair: we have had some wonderful government-initiated consultations, for example the Carver Commission on the land and the original consultations (2015-16) on the Water Act. However this second round on the Water Act is too rushed to allow people to delve into the various sections of the proposed Act. The community needs reasonable time for study of this new document: to appreciate the positive aspects of the act and to identify and raise red flags about any loopholes. We notice that the current government has a tendency to release a number game-changing policy documents within days of each other. The P.E.I. Energy Strategy and the final draft of consultants’ recommendations for a P.E.I. Climate Change Mitigation Strategy were made public on March 17, 2017, practically coinciding the release for Water Act draft. Marie Burge, for Cooper Institute---------------------
William Ruddiman writes the April 9th Global Chorus essay, and is a professor emeritus of environmental sciences at University of Virginia. He wrote it about three years ago.
Nearly all climate scientists (more than 95 per cent) who study modern trends agree that our planet is warming, largely because of greenhouse gases we have been putting in the atmosphere. Even conservative future projections indicate that staying on our current path will cause very large climate changes, harmful both to much of humankind and to many other life forms.
Scientists who deny this prevailing view are far fewer in number, have lesser reputations and are mostly supported by “think tank” money funded by some (not all) energy extraction industries. Unfortunately, this tiny minority view has misled many people. Historically, most people in the U.S. have trusted scientific opinion. But talk radio and many blogs are now filled with angry voices denying any human role in this warming. Astonishingly, many Republican politicians question or reject overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are responsible.
By now, the U.S. should be having an open national debate about ways to act: by reducing our carbon emissions, encouraging new technologies and planning for adaptation. But the flood of dirty money from a few entrenched energy conglomerates has muted this discussion.
Most climate scientists see this deadlock as a national disgrace. The only way to avoid a much warmer and potentially dangerous future is for more of our elected politicians to rediscover their ethical centers and act out of concern for the future of this country and all of humankind.
— William Ruddiman
April 8, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open in Summeside and Charlottetown.
Some notes from the P.E.I. Legislature yesterday include the Official Opposition focusing on unkept Liberal promises, especially about balanced budgets, and later the budget was tabled, which promises to be balanced and have a $600,000 surplus. That equates to $4 per Islander, which perhaps one has the option of putting against the rather larger provincial debt. The Legislature will go through the budget by departments in the coming week or two.
Some thoughtful pieces:
Richard Raiswell's political column on the start of the new Legislative sitting, from CBC Radio this past Monday, and just over four minutes long: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/913587779526
And from yesterday's paper: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/2017/4/7/hans-connor--limits-to-growth-on-p-e-i-.html
HANS CONNOR: Limits to growth on P.E.I. - The Guardian Opinion piece by Hans Connor
“What manner of society do we wish to create, and what kind of people do we want to become?”
Published on Friday, April 7th, 2017
Thanks to David Weale’s article in The Guardian, March 10, 2017 for providing the catalyst for envisioning the future of P.E.I.
In his piece, Weale calls out the unlimited growth agenda as being both hollow and ineffective for our small island. Under this model, resources can get depleted to the point of collapse while any wealth generated flows to a financial metropolis elsewhere. A better idea is to recognize there are limits to growth and to create a philosophy of governance from there. Thus, rather than asking how can the Island become wealthier, Weale rightly asks, “What manner of society do we wish to create, and what kind of people do we want to become?” Here some answers: First, we need to reject the old ideas because they have not led to the results hoped for. Liberal, right-wing, progressive, who cares? These labels impede us from getting to the heart of the issues. What is development anyway? Is it only a measure of economic success? Or can a society feel better when people are contented in other ways? We need to create an Island-based philosophy rather than relying on continentally-driven prescriptions. Then, we need to enter a phase of collective soul-searching. The idea is to ask ourselves who we are and what do we want our society to be. I suspect that our answer will be that there is more to happiness than GDP and that we prefer family farms to strip malls. Whatever the results, we would be able to use the information gleaned as the basis for a strategy built on an understanding of our own geographical and cultural attributes. If I were correct, this would lead us toward a model of sustainable economic development that not only incorporates our cultural heritage but also is also environmentally sound. What I’m talking about is a radical transformation whereby we pursue renewable energy and energy self-sufficiency; where we pursue food security and then apply value-added aspects such as “100 per cent organic” on our local products; where we put value on aspects of our cultural heritage such as landscapes and arts. I'm advocating transitioning to a new paradigm that is economically viable and fits our small Island culture. But, I’m also advocating a new way of thinking. Because we live on a small island, it is easy for us to see the interconnectedness of everything in our surroundings. We know that if we take too much from our public groundwater resources for irrigation then we won’t have enough for drinking, our streams and wetlands will deteriorate, our shellfish industry will suffer, jobs will be lost and so on. In a small island, the effects of our actions are highly visible and the tools to mitigate any problems are limited by the boundary of our shores. In continental settings, there is an illusion of limitless resources but in a small island we know that there are limits. Thus, prudent economic development policy should not involve merely resource extraction or merely the pursuit of growth at all costs. Rather, we should pursue a model of development based on the natural reality of our island. We should transition to what is called a “blue-green” economy in order to better protect the natural environment but also for the sake of fuller employment and better public access to resources such as water or land. In sum, my vision for Prince Edward Island is a transformation that recognizes that equal importance of economic, ecological and social characteristics; that profound collective understanding of our Island is required to discern a suitable Island vision; and that we must merge the understanding of our Island identity with interdisciplinary decision-making and ecological problem-solving in order to achieve sustainable development. Our challenge now is to create institutional and policy frameworks that reflect the interconnectedness of our economy, ecology, social equity and cultural heritage. - Hans Connor of Charlottetown is a labour relations officer with P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees
— Harriet Shugarman is a mother, activist, writer, and executive director of ClimateMama.
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, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Yesterday, poverty was the main issue in the Provincial Legislature. Many members shared their experiences helping constituents, some their personal stories. (Some MLAs could probably get their points across in a shorter period of time.) It is also worth mentioning that the Ghiz-MacLauchlan governments have had several years of government to work on this issue.
The PEI Legislature sits from 10AM-1PM, and the provincial operating budget will be tabled, to be discussed department by department over the coming weeks.
Just a note that the Water Act draft submissions are due by Tuesday, April 18th, and there are public meetings next Monday (Charlottetown) and Wednesday (Pooles Corner).
SEA (Southeast Environmental Association) Environmental Film Festival, 7PM, Montague, Riverhouse Inn & Cottages, 33 Brook St. Films to be shown in the second of the three part festival include:
"This Changes Everything" (Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis's film), "Savior Seeds" and "Meat Hooked!" Doors Open at 6:30. Admission $10, Bar Service Available, 19+ event
Sponsored by the Southeast Environmental Association
Martin Rutte, who has lots of P.E.I. connections, is an international speaker and consultant, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work, and founder of Project Heaven on Earth. http://projectheavenonearth.com/homepage
We all long to live in a world that works – a world in which we successfully solve our worst problems and move in a direction that nourishes and satisfies the deepest part of our soul.
By re-envisioning and restructuring our collective intention, what we hunger for is now within our reach. We can create a new story that encompasses, inspires and enlivens us.
This new story is the co-creation of Heaven on Earth and it starts, simply, by asking the question, what is Heaven on Earth for you?
Our answers are the basis of our collective and uniquely individual new story. Heaven on Earth already exists within each of us. Recognizing this, acting on it and asking others what it means to them, is how we’re co-creating humanity’s new story. Some of us believe that Heaven exists after death. Here’s another point of view: co-creating Heaven is something we can act on right here on Earth, today.
As surely as the seasons change and the calendar turns a new page, we are ready for our next chapter. The winds of a new era are being felt in every corner of our world. It is an age in which we discover what it means to be human and what it means to share our humanity.
What is Heaven on Earth for you?
— Martin Rutte
April 6, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5 and 7-9PM today. You can watch from home here.
Yesterday, after a Question Period that focused on education and e-mails and other communications (there appear to be none) between Education Minister Doug Currie and Deputy Minister Susan Willis, the Legislature worked on the Bill No. 61, An Act to Amend the Archives and Records Act. The MLAs appeared not to have been given the bill with much notice, and started the thorough "second reading" of the bill. This timing and lack of prior notice did not present the best practices of parliamentary democracy.
Today The Guardian is focusing on poverty, and you might want to consider purchasing the issue, and supporting one of our local papers.
LETTER: Priorities askew on mental health - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Monday, April 3rd, 2017
I had my eyes opened some two weeks ago. While attending the forum about mental health care on P.E.I., I learned there is basically no help for young people.
Let me say this again. There is little to no help for young people who are suffering with mental health issues on this Island. That means that Islanders, who are preteens and teens are not being diagnosed or receiving the necessary help they need to function in this world. I thank the group "Island Mothers Helping Mothers" for organizing these two community events. I especially want to thank the members who generously voiced their stories of heartache. It was not easy for them to do so and it was very difficult to hear their stories. Families are suffering for years due to the lack of adequate mental health care on this island. There is a pediatric psychiatrist at the IWK who could help these families but referrals are not forth coming from the island medical community.
Anyone who has cancer, heart disease or a broken bone etc., is taken care of on Island or off, with little wait time. Why should young Islanders suffer for years with a disease, that once diagnosed, can be treated so they live a healthy life? Is it due to the government's priorities being askew? I think so.
Leah-Jane Hayward, North Wiltshire
Green Party Health Shadow Critic Susan Hartley wrote a column about this recently:
From Andrew Lush of Don't Frack PEI
We need your help to get fracking banned in the Water Act - Don't Frack PEI
The draft Water Act is out. And despite the considerable support shown for a ban on fracking, the act doesn’t even mention it.
Looking at the report following the public consultations, which can be seen here: http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/CLE_EAC_WARep.pdf, prohibiting fracking was not only one of the report’s general recommendations, but was also recommended as one of six guiding principles of the Water Act.
Four out of 25 of the report’s recommendations under the theme of ‘protection’ of water were that fracking should be banned. Four of the groups making presentations called for a ban.
At the Environmental Forum before the election, the Premier stated that “a moratorium may come through the Water Act process”.
We will be asking why a ban on fracking has not been included in the draft Water Act, and we invite you to submit your comments to the government’s review of the draft act and/or attend one of the remaining meetings. Here is the place to find out about the meetings, and submit comments: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/water-act-consultation
If we all speak up, perhaps we can get fracking banned for good.
The April 6th Global Chorus is written by Patrick Holden, chief executive of Sustainable Food Trust.,"A global voice for sustainable food and health."
At this precise moment of our planetary evolution, many millions of mindful citizens are standing in front of a question: what actions, individually and collectively, could bring about the necessary conditions for a fundamental transformation – away from our present resource consuming, exploitative, globalized and materialistic lifestyles, towards a more resilient, sustainable and fulfilling alternative?
In front of a challenge of this magnitude, it is easy for an individual person to doubt their capacity to contribute in any meaningful way to bringing about such a change, especially on the vast scale that will be necessary. In this connection, I have found it hugely strengthening to come to the realization that in life, as in the universe, everything is connected, and the same laws that inform our present state and future possibilities are also operating in the wider world.
This is the philosophy of the microcosm and the macrocosm, with the individual representing the “cell” of the larger organism. Since both are united by the same organizing principle, it follows that their possibilities for future development are connected and informed by exactly the same laws. This idea has enormous potency, because it lawfully follows that if I change, the intelligence and knowledge that is contained within this action not only becomes an external influence on the system as a whole, but also, and as a direct consequence, will enable it to change as well.
We can apply this approach to our food systems. For example, if I make a deep personal commitment to build greater energy self-sufficiency and systems resilience in my hilltop farm in west Wales, or as a consumer I decide to purchase as much sustainable and locally produced food as is practically possible, these simple actions, amplified at community, regional, national and even international levels, can and will bring about the transformation we seek.
This is a message of hope, of empowerment which is always available and has the possibility of enabling positive change. These conditions can often seem hidden from me, but they will always arise when I bring my attention, both metaphorically and literally, into my own body, my own life, and I start from where I am.
— Patrick Holden
April 5, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The P.E.I.Legislature sits from 2-5PM today. Watch live here, sit in the Gallery of the Coles Building, or watch from the Committee Room in the J. Angus MacLean Building.
Yesterday, the Tories roundly showed their disgust at the past 24 hours of needless drama caused by a School Review with its flawed process and misplaced priorities. There were also two motions (No. 1 on encouraging cancer screening and No. 79 on Islanders gaining access to government programs) debated in the afternoon. The evening session had an Opposition motion (No. 88) on calling for elected school boards. Both Tories and Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker voted for this motion; all the government members present (the apparently Premier was not there) voted against the motion.
Steven Myers, Opposition MLA (D2: Georgetown-St. Peter's) started a charming social media initiative by going "Live at Five" and spending a couple of minutes on video with colleague Darlene Compton (MLA D4: Belfast-Murray River) discussing what the Official Opposition did that afternoon. Check his Facebook page or if other Tories or others share it.
Tonight has the last scheduled public meeting for the electoral boundaries review.
Electoral Boundaries, Morell Regional High School, 6:30-8:30PM.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission will be accepting your written submission until Thursday April 20th, 2017 at 5pm. If you want to send in your written submission email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to:
PEI Electoral Boundaries Commission, 176 Great George St. Suite 160
Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K9
The second of four remaining water act public meetings is today at 7PM in Summerside.
Shirley Gallant made his beautiful sign to illustrate the draft water act public meetings:
Tonight: Water Act draft public meeting, 7PM, Summerside, Credit Union Place.
Jean Vanier, humanitarian, philosopher, founder of L’Arche International, writes today's Global Chorus essay:
Since the discovery of nuclear weapons, the growing greed which can cause serious ecological disequilibrium and a possible breakage of global economy, the question of the future of humanity is put in question. Yet the history of humanity shows the capacity for our societies to rise up from horrible catastrophes. Each new generation seems to have new energies to face and confront – with creativity and lucidity – difficult and seemingly impossible situations. Nature seems to possess an amazing power of resilience. The human heart yearns to live: to live in wisdom and in peace.
Over the years, great men and women philosophers, scientists, artists, psychologists, politicians, people of wisdom, of prayer, of a deep spirituality have risen up as prophets of life and peace to show a road to hope. Mahatma Gandhi, Abdul Kfar Khan, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Etty Hillesum, Martin Luther King – the list is long and impressive. Millions of
people are capable of following and discerning real leaders from dangerous dictators, mafia groups and incompetent politicians. Human hearts can be cowed and paralyzed by fear; but the desire for light, trust and freedom, and the need to live humanely, can break through these fears.
I cannot foresee the global future. I do have trust in human wisdom and goodness. Certainly we shall continue to live through times of pain and destruction. Half the world’s population today live in pain, need and oppression. But our hearts will grow in new energies of love. There is a hidden power of love in the hearts of so many weak, crushed and impoverished people. A time will come when they will rise up to confront those who have power and money and possessions. They will show a new way. Humanity can change from the need of rivalry to the beauty of togetherness: the “I” transformed into the “we.”
— Jean Vanier
April 4, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Divide and conquer seemed to be the tactic at the Public Schools Branch announcement of its review last night. There were winners and losers, but it was organizer Janet Payne (who found out that the Kinkora Family is not being reviewed for the time being -- no reasoning given, just that statement) who soon put up on social media a revised picture from one that had been shared a lot during process:
little modified graphic from social media, posted last night.
People were very involved in this process. The Water Act meeting, scheduled before the Public Schools Branch announced their meeting, was another "loser" in the overscheduled evening.
Perhaps it will be a topic during Question Period...
The P.E.I. Legislature opens at 2PM today, sitting from 2-5PM and 7-9PM.
The second to last Electoral Boundaries Commission meeting is at East Wiltshire school, 6:30PM-8:30PM tonight (Morell tomorrow night). More details.
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative www.nobelwomensinitiative.org, writes the April 4th Global Chorus essay.
In his masterwork, Don Quixote, Cervantes wrote, “Maybe the greatest madness is to see life as it is rather than what it could be.” Moving beyond the environmental and socio-economic crossroads where humanity stands today requires shaking this madness and giving birth to a common vision of a world of sustainable peace with justice and equality.
But creating sustainable peace, including environmental protection and sustainability, is not attained by contemplating doves flying over rainbows while singing peace ballads. Some of the most basic elements of creating a common vision rest on new conceptions of security built on a strong foundation of human security, not national security. Human security is based on meeting the needs of people and the planet, not one that focuses primarily on the often aggressive framework of the defence of the apparatus of the state – at huge costs to humanity and the environment.
Tackling that outmoded worldview must be the collective action of civil society and governments. No one changes the world alone. Alone, thinking about all of the challenges in today’s world, can be completely overwhelming and, worse, disempowering. But when we choose to work together in coordinated action toward achieving the common goal of sustainable peace on a sustainable planet, there is little we cannot accomplish. Each and every one of us has the power to contribute to lasting change, and when we choose to use that power together in collective action we can make the seemingly impossible possible.
Creating change is hard work; it is not impossible work. It takes all elements of the global community working together in strategic, coordinated action to make a vision reality. Change does not happen simply because we wish it would. It is the result of the hard work of millions of people around the world – every single day.
Building sustainable peace on a sustainable planet is not a utopian dream. It is possible. It is a wondrous adventure that we must all be part of to turn our vision into sustainable reality.
— Jody Williams
April 3, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Folks in West Prince, recovering from the astonishingnews about winning the Hockeyville contest, have a couple of local events happening tonight unrelated to hockey, but all about protecting and promoting community.
The results of the School Board review, which proposes closing both Bloomfield Elementary and St. Louis Elementary, will be announced at Bluefield High school (Route 9 in Hampshire) at 7:30PM.
But the area's only scheduled regional meeting on the draft provincial water act is taking place at Westisle Composite High School from 7-9PM. Part of the rationale for holding off releasing the Water Act draft until March we were told was not to conflict with the School Review, but this is a huge conflict; if government makes any comment that few people in West Prince were interested in coming to the water act meeting, it will be unfounded.
Water Act Draft Consultation, Westisle Composite High School, 7-9PM.
School Board Review announcement, 7:30PM, Bluefield High School. The fate of the other small schools (Belfast, Georgetown and St. Jean's) and other matters like rezoning will be announced, too. Apparently, the appointed school board has the ability to enact all of their recommendations, except closing schools, without Cabinet approval.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 4th:
P.E.I. Legislature opens, 2PM, sits 2-5PM and 7-9PM, Coles Building.
Electoral Boundaries Commission public meeting, East Wiltshire School, 6:30-8:30PM. Just to note that these public meetings are not a drop-in-any-time, but a be-there-when-it-starts kind of meeting.
Regarding the commentary, below (by Kinkora resident Janet Payne): thoughts of the Plan B highway came to mind when thinking of this, of "lower carbon" decent jobs for people like teaching children and tending to the existing roads versus short-term gargantuan spending on building something new and unsuited to the real needs of the community.
What is the Key MOTIVATOR Behind These Recommendations? - Social Media post by Janet Payne
Published on social media, Sunday, April 2nd, 2017
Our government has carefully followed a very well laid out plan, based upon top-notch legal advise Islanders' have paid dearly for, with the end goal of being able to return to their plan of closing small schools. This time around there was the belief that it would be much easier to accomplish this goal as we no longer have Elected Trustees to protect communities' interests but DAC's who have no power at all.
Since the first meeting at Three Oaks in Sept/16, when Bob (Andrews, school reorganization project manager of the P.E.I. Public Schools Branch) released his original flawed report putting schools within six Families under a Category 2 review, I have spent time thinking about the possible MOTIVATOR behind this move. After all, none of us thought that Bob had simply come up with these recommendations on his own, and it certainly wasn't about Better Learning for All.
My belief is that government's end goal is not what it appears to be on the surface. After all, why would gov't go to such an incredible expense, both politically and financially, to achieve this goal of closing a few small schools?
On the surface, closing 5 schools makes little sense because we already know that running these schools consumes such a tiny portion of the education budget that this small savings would easily be off-set by the expenses of closing schools, dealing with vacant buildings, and busing significant numbers of students to larger schools.
When you look at the recommendations as a whole, however, you quickly see that this is NOT about closing small schools. This is about justifying the creation of newer and larger schools. Careful steps include:
1) sabotaging zones so enrollments are reduced (done)
2) refusing to have a proper zoning and transportation study done by independent and qualified professionals (done)
3) recommending that several small schools be closed and that these students should be bused to larger schools (done)
4) intentionally overcrowding these larger schools so that (very quickly) there is the JUSTIFICATION for building newer, EVEN LARGER schools
5) convincing parents that these newer schools absolutely provide Better Learning for All
6) benefiting local developers who will be involved with the building of these larger schools
7) buying votes within these larger centres where new schools will be created
8) consolidating students within fewer centralized schools
9) ***AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, reducing the number of TEACHER POSITIONS since these large centralized schools will enable the PSB to maximize the number of students in each and every classroom. This is the REAL cost saver.
I would even go so far as to say this gov't is likely planning to announce the building of these newer and larger schools just prior to the next election as a means of gaining votes in our larger centres.
Did our Liberal gov't think we WOULDN'T look beneath the surface and put the pieces together?
This is NOT about closing a few small schools. This is about justifying the creation of larger centralized schools in the very near future, thus eliminating teacher positions in a very significant way. In Summerside, the renovation plans have already begun...
As others have noted, more and more people are being to "wake up" about these kind of manipulations and the sacrifices to the real things we care about (community, family, our environment) in the process. As a very funny and smart woman said to me a few months ago, when the realize a particular (usually) government plan has gone too far, we become "activated".
The Global Chorus essay for April 3rd is written by Bob McDonald, author and host of "Quirks & Quarks" science show on CBC Radio on Saturdays.
It took more than two thousand years to see our planet. How much longer will it take to understand how it works?
An Ancient Greek mathematician made the first measurement of the Earth 2,200 years ago using shadows from the sun and simple geometry. It was the first realization that the whole planet was much larger than the “Known World.” In other words, our ignorance of the Earth was far greater than our knowledge at the time. Today, even though we have seen the planet from afar as a single blue orb floating in the infinite blackness of space, our ignorance of how it behaves is as great as our lack of understanding about geography was 22 centuries ago.
The complexity and interconnectedness of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere, as well as how they respond to human activity, is a new terra incognita. Despite all our sophisticated instruments and satellites, we cannot predict the weather beyond a week. No one knows where or when the next earthquake or volcano will erupt or tsunami will strike. We know that human activity is changing this dynamic of the planet, often in surprising and usually harmful ways, but exactly how this will play out in the future is still a somewhat inexact science.
To seal our survival in that future, we face three challenges: to more fully understand the dynamics of the Earth, to develop alternative technology and to control our population. The first requires science; the second, engineering. The third and probably most difficult challenge involves making intelligent political and social decisions.
For decades the environmental movement has adopted a warlike strategy against big industry, a white hat–black hat approach that pointed fingers at pollution, demanding new laws to keep the planet clean. But now that we have identified the problems it’s time to get on with a new, co-operative approach, one that produces immediate tangible results. The business community has discovered that going green makes money. Consumers want clean, efficient technology, so it’s a win for the economy and a win for the environment. Now is the time to innovate, to develop more efficient ways to turn wheels, cleaner ways to produce electricity and keep ourselves warm. The challenge is huge but far from impossible, and the economy need not suffer along the way.
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 McDonald
April 2, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
After lots of April Fool's joking, here are some serious warnings to take action and protect what we have...and it does seem "worth trying"....
This is the trailer for the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, which is coming out this summer, by Al Gore. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
It is about two-and-a-half powerful minutes.
About our water and protecting it, and taking the time to do it right:
LETTER: Heed warnings about water use - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Saturday, April 1st, 2017
I'm an Islander on vacation in California and normally I wouldn't take the time from my travel to write an MLA (Robert Mitchell). However, I feel I must take a moment to concur with Don Mazer and Marie-Ann Bowden's recent letter published on Thursday, March 30, in The Guardian asking for a little more time to ensure comprehensive input into the formation of our new Water Act.
It's here in drought-plagued California I'm reminded about how fragile and necessary water is to both our economy and our survival. A few days ago a well-educated and informed gentleman of this country recently asked me what I thought the USA really wanted from Canada. With an attempt at humour I said somewhat facetiously, political sanctuary? Without blinking, and without humour, he said, "Nope, it’s your water."
While California is far from Prince Edward Island, the issue of water protection is neither far from any place, nor anyone. To this end, and I do trust you are well intentioned in your pursuits, I urge you to heed those amongst us that understand our water challenges. To limit discussion is to limit our vision and, at this critical juncture, that may not bode well for Islanders, especially our grandchildren.
Thanks for remaining open minded.
Walter Wilkins, Stratford
Alan Weisman is the author of The World Without Us and Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World. He writes the Global Chorus essay for April 2nd.
There’s only one indisputable answer as to whether we can escape today’s global environmental crisis: nobody really knows.
Think of it this way: every day, some people somewhere decide to do something reckless. They have one more drink. Or try some new pill. Or freeclimb mountainsides, or race in cars, or have unprotected sex with someone they can’t be absolutely sure isn’t lethally infected. Or they simply go somewhere or do something they suspect they shouldn’t.
Nevertheless, they do it. Why?
Two reasons: first, there’s an instant payoff. Immediately, you’re drunker, higher, prouder, moving thrillingly faster, or you’re more deliciously aroused, gratified and satisfied. It feels great.
Second, the odds seem on your side. Sure you could get killed, but people do these things all the time and survive. In fact, you’ve done them before, and you’re still here. So far, anyway.
And so are we. We humans spring from an ongoing process entailing an unfathomably intricate, natural infrastructure – one we’ve spent the past 250 years disrupting or dismantling by trashing countless of its components. So far, we’re still around to relish whatever payoffs we’ve gained. But it’s pretty reckless behaviour.
At some point our luck may run out. Me, I’d prefer we stop taking dumb chances. But I can’t stop us alone. Together, we might.
I just looked: it’s still beautiful out there. I can hear a thrush. Our damage may not be terminal, and much of it may be reparable.
Seems worth trying. Please spread the word.
— Alan Weisman
April 1, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown, and there are still some Community Supported Agriculture programs with shares available, if you want to look into those: http://www.foodexchangepei.com/list-of-csas-on-pei.html
-- just updated this week.
Seedy Saturday events:
Souris, Souris Public Library, 12noon-2PM
Breadalbine, Breadalbine Public Library, 3-6PM
and from Seed Alliance Coordinator Josie Baker: the Confederation Centre Public Library will set up the binders to distribute the seed from the Seed Library for the month of April! Drop by the library in Charlottetown any time after Saturday to see what's on offer! I suggest going by earlier, before there's nothing left but hollyhocks😋
I think their is a big used book sale at the Confed Centre Library today if you were looking for books and not seeds; the book sale is also tomorrow.
This was from earlier in the week, and has good points:
LETTERS: Banning exports protects P.E.I. water - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
(With World Water Day being celebrated today, March 22,) I am heartened to see that the draft Water Act released last week would make it illegal to export bottled water from P.E.I.
The supply of fresh water around the world is disappearing and many parts of the world already face severe water shortages. Exporting P.E.I.’s precious fresh water is indeed a mistake.
Watersheds across Canada are under threat from this practice. Fortunately, the popularity of bottled water has decreased significantly in the past few years. According to Statistics Canada, in 2013, 23 per cent of households drank bottled water as their main source of drinking water compared to 30 per cent of households in 2007. People are realizing that it requires 3-5 litres of water to create a plastic, litre-sized bottle and that the manufacture and transport of bottled water requires a great deal of fossil fuel.
They are recognizing that some bottled water actually consists of municipal water, including at least one brand on P.E.I. They are concerned about the serious problems caused by discarded plastic bottles. And they are learning that while municipal water is tested at least daily for safety, bottled water plants are only inspected on average every three years. Banning the export of bottled water, drinking tap water at home and carrying refillable water bottles are important ways to preserve fresh water and a good way to mark World Water Day.
Council of Canadians, P.E.I. Chapter
The Water Act draft is available here to browse, and to comment on.
Ian Wright, travel television host of Lonely Planet’s Pilot Guides (aka Globe Trekker)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a depressing doom and gloom merchant, and I do believe that humans are the most extraordinary animals that have ever lived – especially when I think about all the unbelievable things we have achieved, all the amazing and inspirational people I have been lucky enough to meet. But when I look at what we have done to this Earth within such a minuscule amount time of being here … we are screwed …
Apart from breeding like rabbits, the world’s population is run by the 1 per cent that mainly seek financial and personal gain and don’t give a monkey’s about any long-term global effect: “as long as the money’s rolling in NOW, why care about the future?” And these evil creatures are never going to give up that kind of power to the likes of you and me …
I feel a fight behind the bike sheds is brewing!
Or come away with me on my homemade space rocket in the backyard …
— Ian Wright