December 2015

December 31, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

On Friday, November 27th, the Special Committee on Democratic Reform submitted its First Report on their work from the summer and fall of 2015, mainly focusing on electoral reform. It was very positively received, and approved by the House. The document is here,

and some background is here:

The recommendations are to have the timeline originally proposed be rejiggered for 2016 -- to have more public meetings from mid-January to late March, where the four different alternatives to First Past the Post (the current "winner take all" voting system we have) will be explored further, to have the Committee craft a plebiscite question to present to the Legislature in the Spring Sitting, then to have the Summer and Fall be for more information sessions and public education on the alternatives, and to have a plebiscite in November 2016.

The Citizens' Alliance is writing a brief response to the First Report that was submitted to the P.E.I. Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, mainly encouraging more lead time before these winter meetings start, and a few other ideas about encouraging public engagement. We'll post that on our website.

Yesterday this was on the CBC Website from the Premier's year-end interviews:


Electoral reform

When it comes to rejuvenating government, the new Liberal administration has already launched an electoral reform process, with a plebiscite planned for next year.

"My point in electoral reform is that more people should see that their votes count," said MacLauchlan.

A white paper on democratic renewal, released in July, focused on a ranked ballot system of voting. Islanders will also be given a choice of a proportional representation system, but MacLauchlan isn't keen on that option.

"I'm not a believer in proportional representation," he said. “I think it would give us minority governments in perpetuity. We've never had one on Prince Edward Island and we have an active and effective democracy."

MacLauchlan noted the province leads the country in voter turnout, indicating a high level of interest in politics. "We shouldn't be trying to upset the apple cart or to completely change what has been a system that, frankly, has people engaged.

This is a little disconcerting, as I am not sure what the effect of having a provincial leader already expressing a strong opinion will affect things.

This article is from just before the federal election, but takes some of the bugbears out of the idea of minority governments.

More to come in 2016, I am sure :-)

For all of 2015 (most days, anyway), the daily essay from Todd E. MacLean's anthology Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, has been excerpted or copied in whole with permission in the daily Citizens' Alliance News, and it's been a pleasure to share these remarkable, inspiring voices. I am not quite sure if it should be done, as in over, or if many are worth revisiting again in 2016 in this format.

But the book ends with the wonderful Maya Angelou, most known as a poet and actress, but also a novelist, and filmmaker and historian. Here is the YouTube link to her poem reading at Bill Clinton's U.S. presidential inauguration in 1993.

She writes for the last Global Chorus essay:

"There’s a hospital in my town that has the Maya Angelou Women’s Health & Wellness Center in it, and in each wing there are statements which say, 'I promise to treat every patient as if she’s a valued member of my family.' 'I promise to treat the hospital as my home, and respect it and keep it clean.' This is what we should be doing on our planet. Because this is all we have, as far as we can be sure. We may have walked on the moon, but nobody is colonizing another planet. So we should be careful with how we treat this planet, since it is not only our home now, and has been the home of our ancestors, but is going to be the home of our children to come. And so we should be careful with it – be careful with the temperature, and we should look after ourselves and our home with respect and gratitude: to have a constant attitude of gratitude.

"We really have enough food on this planet to feed everybody alive. We don’t need to have somebody starving in order for us to give. We are encouraged by every religious tract, whether the Bible, or the Talmud, or the Torah, or the Bhagavad Gita, to be respectful and care for each other. And that is whether we look alike – whether we are caring for somebody who looks like us and speaks our language or not. Until we evolve into a group which has enough courage to really care about each other, we will continue to be at odds.

"When I speak of love, I speak of that condition in the human spirit so profound that it encourages us to develop courage – courage enough to care for somebody else, who may not look like us, who may call God a different name if they call God at all. I don’t speak of sentimentality when I’m speaking of love. I speak of that condition which may be that which holds the stars in the firmament. That causes the blood to run orderly through our veins. It’s a powerful condition. It crosses ignorance. It spans the mountains and the rivers. It dares us, and allows us, to look after someone else’s children. To care about the people who are yet to come. That, to me, is love. And this is our way forward." -- Maya Angelou

Words to end one year and begin another.

December 30, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open today from 9AM to 2PM, and then will be open again on Saturday, January 2nd, as the normal schedule.

There has been renewed discussion of establishing an actual provincial museum. Green Party Leader ("Leader of the Third Party") and District 17 Kelly's Cross-Cumberland Peter Bevan-Baker made a "Member's Statement" about it on Thursday, November 26th during the Fall Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature (the less than two minute video of the statement is on Legislative Assembly YouTube channel, here).

A CBC website article from yesterday is here.

And below is the letter to the editor from retired provincial biologist and current NaturePEI: Natural History Society of P.E.I. president, Rosemary Curley.

A golden opportunity - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Rosemary Curley

Let’s develop Museum of Human and Natural History

Published on Monday, December 28th

With the P.E.I. Legislature now closed, there was an important topic raised which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed by the media, and it needs recognition. Decades have passed since the Legislative Assembly created the organization charged with museum responsibility, yet major areas of the provincial museum mandate like natural history have gone unaddressed. It was the watchful eye of Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker who noticed this and brought forward a statement to the Assembly on November 26th.

He stated:

“With the commitment of the new federal government to spend billions of dollars on social infrastructure, now might be a wonderful time for Islanders to begin to dream again about a project long discussed and advocated: and that is, the construction of a new Provincial Museum of Human and Natural History, a state-of-the-art institution to showcase and highlight the rich legacy, and promise, of our Island province. I foresee — I dream about — a must-visit facility for every Island school student, citizen and visitor.

“The Premier talks often about that very precious inheritance of Islanders, the Gift of Jurisdiction. In my opinion, that “Gift” is rather hollow — indeed, at risk — unless pains are taken, with each new generation, to shore up and reinforce Islanders’ sense of history and identity. Also, we need to continue to learn from our past – in particular, how human beings have affected the often fragile environment of this place, and vice versa. Thus we can equip ourselves to face the future with a higher consciousness, and a greater wisdom . . .

“In 1970, a visionary Island Government of the day took the bold step of establishing the Prince Edward Island Heritage Foundation. In 1983, the Museum Act changed the name of the organization, added a natural history mandate, and underlined the institution’s status as the Island’s “provincial museum” Now, almost half a century later, let us be bold to finish the job and build a lovely and imaginative new facility which will be the pride of Islanders.”

Kudos to Dr. Bevan-Baker for recognizing this golden opportunity to develop a museum that tells the full story of this province, its distant geological past, its rich paleontological treasures buried deep within, and all life forms that call it home. Nature P.E.I. shares this vision of a museum with programs that help all Islanders and visitors understand the significance of both natural and human heritage.

We implore the Government of P.E.I. to move ahead now that there is an interest at the federal level in funding joint projects that serve the needs of Canadians in the area of social infrastructure.

Rosemary Curley, is a biologist who serves as president of Nature P.E.I.: The Natural History Society of Prince Edward Island.


See what could have been done with "2014 Celebration" money? ;-)

NaturePEI holds its monthly meetings the first Tuesday of the month, 7:30PM, at Beaconsfield Carriage House in Charlottetown, and there is usually a fine guest speaker and topic. All welcome. Their website will have details at some point.

David Orr is an American who teaches environmental science at Oberlin College in north-central Ohio. He led the college and town to become what's called The Oberlin Project, being sustainable and full-spectrum carbon neutral.

More here:

He has written several books, including Hope is an Imperative, and he writes the penultimate Global Chorus essay:

"No sane gambler would bet on us. Armed and dangerous, we are loading the atmosphere with carbon as fast as we can, thereby changing the climatic and ecological conditions necessary to our own survival. The reasons are said to be economical necessity, but to paraphrase Thoreau, what good is a booming economy if you don’t have a decent planet to put it on?

"For a species pleased to call itself Homo sapiens our situation is ironic. Many scientists saw the peril decades ago, but the powers that be were deaf to warnings and dumb to opportunities. That too is ironic because the knowledge and capacity to build a sunshine-powered, ecologically resilient civilization has grown in pace with the dangers. It is possible to power civilization by efficiency and sunlight, feed humanity sustainably, eliminate waste and build cities in harmony with Nature. Such things are not just technically possible and economically feasible, they are moral imperatives.

"Are there grounds for optimism? Not if you know enough. Are there reasons for despair? Not if you care enough. But in contrast to optimism or despair, hope requires us to act in ways that change the odds. And everywhere on Earth, people are rising to the challenge. They are dreaming, planting, building, tending, caring, healing, organizing and restoring. They are working from the bottom up to lay the foundation for decent and durable communities and societies. And someday, on a farther horizon, our descendants will know that this was, indeed, humankind’s 'finest hour.' " — David W. Orr

December 29, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This letter was in the Saturday edition of The Guardian:

Stay calm and spray on - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Maureen Kerr

Published on Satuday, December 26th, 2015

The two-part study “Pesticides and human health,” recently published by our Chief Public Health office, might as well have been titled, ‘Stay Calm and Spray On.’ Islanders are more than a little baffled by the studies for several reasons.

Part 1 and part 2 draw completely different conclusions. For instance, the conclusion in part one states that “several pesticides exposures have been shown to have significant human health effects” and that we should “reduce the use of and exposure to pesticides for the general population and for vulnerable groups (ie pregnant women and children).”

The Part 2 conclusion reads “Based on the current review, pesticides used in P.E.I. following “labeled-practices” do not pose a significant public health risk.” Just prior to drawing this conclusion the authors (we don’t know who they are, as no names were published), they also state

“Several meta-analyses evidenced the association between lymphohematopoietic cancers and agricultural occupational pesticide exposure”, and “the association between agricultural employment and Parkinson’s Disease has been evidenced in the literature.” These are just a couple of such alarming statements out of a plethora within the reports. Although our Department of Health touts the use of “The Precautionary Principle” these conflicting conclusions are evidence to the contrary.

Throughout the report, the authors insinuate that because rates of certain diseases are in line with rates in other provinces, we shouldn’t worry. This is ludicrous. All Canadians have very good reason to be concerned about our over reliance on pesticides to grow our food.

I also find the circumstances around the publishing of these reports to be curious. One would think that after all the decades of concerns about the dangers of pesticides, this study would be one that our government should be making a huge deal about. Yet, it was quietly published with zero fanfare, no press release and a few weeks before Christmas, when most of us are so busy we scarcely have time to read the paper, never mind a 350-plus-page meta-analysis.

However, anyone who actually reads it can only find serious cause for concern.

- Maureen Kerr is co-chair of Pesticide Free P.E.I.


Since the letter was submitted, the Chief Public Health Office has removed the originally-posted documents, added cover pages with the authors' listed on the first two publications, and returned them to the website, with little "NEW" flagging. You have to scroll down to the "Documents" list section, here:

On Friday, New Year's Day, both Stratford and Cornwall will have Cosmetic Pesticide by-laws come into effect.

Town of Stratford Bylaw information

The Town of Cornwall's bylaw page is here but has not been updated yet, I don't think.

Guujaaw is a Haida, Raven Clan of Skedans member, and traditional singer, wood carver, activist and traditional medicine practitioner.

Here is a poem for today, with apologies for how the layout worked out:

what of the Beast

that has no face

no head

no heart within

the motherless Beast

though born of man

became his master

the wily Beast

revels in our selfish desires

while guiding its makers

to their own demise

the Beast feels no guilt

as it spoils the earth

and no regard

for the sentient being

the powerful Beast

it rules the rulers

and rids itself

of those in its way

our fathers sit at its table

do its bidding

then reap its reward

… or be replaced by another

the repulsive Beast

will not be satisfied

and cannot be slain

though the beast be unleashed

it is within …

to the Beast we say

Enough, you loathsome error

you bring no peace

you bring no love

be of with you

We are of life

precious life

it is time for living

— Guujaaw

December 28, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

It's that last week of the year to consider donating to various organizations, certainly if you wish to receive a tax receipt for the 2015 year.

You may be on mailing or phone lists for political parties, and other national or international environmental groups and organizations like the Council of Canadians; consider local organizations which are registered charities such as Macphail Woods Ecological Project, Island Nature Trust, ECO-PEI, Sierra Club -- PEI branch, and even the Voluntary Resource Centre. Other groups to consider, though you won't get a tax receipt, are Don't Frack PEI, PEI Food Exchange, Save Our Seas and Shores - PEI, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water and the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. :-) and many others, which all function via volunteers and still need to raise funds for costs like website domain registration and meeting/event space rentals.

A spotlight on Macphail Woods' Restore an Acre program:

Organizational information for many of these groups can be found here on the Citizens' Alliance list of P.E.I. environmental groups:

or by contacting me.

Ta'Kaiya Blaney is a now 14 year old girl from the Tla'Amin First Nation and grew up along the shores of the area known as the Salish Sea in British Columbia. She is active as a singer/songwriter and performer, and international speaker. More about her at:

She writes:

"We humans have been travelling on a road of consumerism. Ever since the start of the industrial revolution (which brought about corporate colonization and environmental injustice), we’ve been witnessing signs saying 'Stop,' 'Dead End,' 'Yield,' and 'Wrong Way.' We continue to drive ahead despite the obvious. Our steering wheel is becoming weaker and weaker, and our brakes are becoming looser and less functional. Our warnings have been given. Someday we’ll drive of that cliff and fall, and then there’s no turning back. Presently, we’re still driving on that road, and our solutions lie right in front of our noses.

"Our options for our future under the context of sustainability are vast and wide, yet we make no actions to officially begin using our alternatives. Why? Why do we continue to wait for change in our societies, led by authorities such as our prime ministers and officials? We are denying the fact that if we wait for change it may never come.

"We must be the voice, for that is what we were given. Our role is to be the Healer, the Warrior and the Teacher. We must be the change for our many generations to come, and for our Mother Earth.

"The decisions made within the last few centuries shaped our society into what it is today. I believe that positive decisions made today to influence sustainability can also shape the society of the next generation and the generations to come. However, we need our actions to low now, and our change needs to happen before our steering wheel slacks, and we plunge from the cliff. We still have time to turn around.

"We have a voice to speak up, and a superpower called change. Let’s use it. :) " -- TaKaiya Blaney

December 27, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

These agricultural notes ("Farming for the Future", an occasional column by Wayne MacKinnon in the second section of The Guardian, are sometimes a bit of a booster for a government program or decision; but the column from last Monday was particularly interesting and forthright, as we draw a close to The International Year of Soils. I don't have the link (as I can't find it on-line), so I have taken screenshots from the on-line edition. Hope it's readable (it is from Monday, December 21st, 2015, page B-6:


The link he mentioned is here from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):

The report on soils is here to download:

Let's hope in 2016 we can "support more policies and actions" that support and enhance soil on P.E.I.

Xavier Rudd is an Australian singer, multi-instrumentalist, surfer and activist. He toured in Canada last year, and will be in New Zealand this year with the band named The United Nations.

He writes for today's Global Chorus:

<snip> "if every human being on the planet began with taking even one minute in their day to simply reflect on the fact that we are of this Earth and not just on this Earth, would that alone start a swing towards healing the simple energetic connection between human and land? As we know, energy is in everything and its power is often overlooked. And by changing each individual’s energetic focus on the importance of our Earth, even without physically doing anything, it would be an important start in reigniting the lost sacred harmony between human and Earth. <snip>

"We are seeing more and more little pockets of society taking their own initiatives to educate and implement sustainable living practices and to stand up with force against environmental threat. These ideals need to grow and expand and our children have to be somewhat reprogrammed. The power of the Internet in activism has proven to be amazing and really is all so new in the scheme of things. <snip>

"It is extremely important that active groups become more united around the planet. There is too much division and that alone is unsustainable. If we are to create conditions necessary for our own survival, we are going to need to build a massive syndicate greater than anything we’ve ever seen in order to be able to keep things on track.<snip>" -- Xavier Rudd

Thinking globally, acting locally, in both cases.

December 26, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Hope everyone had a good Christmas and can enjoy these next couple of quiet days. As it is Boxing Day and there are many origins of the meaning of the day, thoughts of our boxing Prime Minister came to mind. While it's been an energetic couple of months, a couple of issues were very relevant during the campaign in regards to democracy and environment but haven't made much news.

Promises to repeal the more odious parts of Bill (now Law) C-51 are broken down into eight sections, and along with other promises, are kept track of at the TrudeauMetre website.

The promise to reverse the decision to end home delivery of mail by Canada Post is apparently being worked on, but doesn't really seem to have the direct attention and clear directive that many felt were promised.

I am not sure how the promise for a thorough review of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) is being undertaken, but here is a thorough letter by Rosalind Waters, who as put a lot of time and thought into trade agreement issues like this and the looming CETA deal.


Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement not about trade - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Rosalind Waters

Published on December 21, 2015 in The Guardian (link)

The Trans Pacific Partnership (the TPP), a so-called “trade” agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim countries was negotiated by our previous Conservative government over a period of three years in guarded secrecy. It was then promoted as a “massive” agreement with a trade block worth 40 per cent of world GDP. “Wow.” We were supposed to think, “How could we pass up that opportunity?”

In fact, 97 per cent of Canada’s exports to these countries are already tariff-free, which is not surprising when you consider that Canada already has trade agreements with four of these countries, including the U.S. The potential impact of this agreement on exports in negligible and more than one economist has argued that it will have negative impacts on job creation and growth. Even proponents of the deal have admitted that possible benefits are minuscule.

So what is this agreement really about, if it’s not about trade? Recently many notable individuals and organizations have come forward to oppose the TPP. Economists, Doctors without Borders, copyright specialists, sustainable agriculture specialists and industrial sectors such as auto and even Jim Balsillie have joined the chorus. The common theme of their criticism is that the agreement is really about the largest multinationals locking in their market power and stifling our government’s ability to pass laws and introduce regulations which benefit us Canadians.

They talk about drug companies extending their patent protection and hiking our drug prices, large industrial dairy multinationals eroding supply-management, extension of copyright terms bringing a windfall for entertainment companies, with little benefit to artists or the public.

They also talk about the controversial provisions which allow multinationals to sue governments through unaccountable tribunals when a government passes a law which interferes with their profit making. Nobel laureate economist, and former chief economist at the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, bluntly put it “The real intent of these provisions is to impede health, environmental, safety, and, yes, even financial regulations...."

So, is the genie finally out of the bottle? — the truth that “trade” agreements are not really about trade. Should we start to call them “investment treaties” or “investor rights treaties”?

Whatever we call them they can seem complicated. But if we start looking at their effect on drug costs and on our dairy farms and the fabric of our rural communities, we’re well on our way to understanding that the highfalutin negotiations which took place behind closed doors many thousands of kilometres away have nothing much to do with meeting our need for jobs, health and environmental sustainability.

Our new Liberal government would be wise to resist the pressure to sign the agreement in February before it has held widespread public consultations. It would certainly damage its much vaulted claims to being “open and transparent.”

Rosalind Waters, of Charlottetown, P.E.I., is a member of Guatemala–Maritimes Breaking the Silence Network


Holidays are a good time to send a little hello to your MP to remind him of these campaign promises; addresses are here:

Egmont -- Bobby Morrissey:

Malpeque -- Wayne Easter:

Charlottetown -- Sean Casey:

Cardigan -- Lawrence MacAulay:

All their contact information, how they voted, recent tweets -- Lots of info at the very colourful Open Parliament website


And here is a completely silly video from This Hour Has 22 Minutes saluting Justin Trudeau's Christmas day of birth:

Bill McKibbon, is a founder of, an organization that educates, speaks up and organizes actions about Climate Change. The "350" refers to the "ratio of carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere" compared to all the other molecules, based on a count of "ppm" or parts per million.

Other info on what 400ppm (where we are now) looks like:

(It is similar, just a different way of expressing it, to the 1.5 - 2 degree rise in temperature discussed in the Paris Climate Change agreement.)

He writes -- so wonderfully and well -- for today's Global Chorus:

"I decided some time ago that I was going to spend no more energy trying to figure out if things were going to come out alright or not. We’re engaged in a civilization-scale wager with enormously high stakes – my role, I think, is to get up every morning and try to change the odds of that wager a little bit, without any guarantee that it will come out okay.

"And there can be no guarantee, I fear, for we’ve done massive damage to the planet’s most important physical systems. The most important of these is the climate – after 10,000 quite stable years, the period that scientists call the Holocene, we’ve moved on to a new, much tougher period. How tough is still up to us, though the damage done so far (the melted Arctic, for instance) is sobering.

"In short, the single thing we must do is get off fossil fuel, and in a matter of years. Physically we could do it, but it would mean a colossal effort, in the face of the power of the coal, oil and gas industries, the richest and most powerful enterprises in human history. It would mean changing some of our rich-world notions about economic growth. And it would mean, most of all, trading in the hyper-individualism of high consumer society for tighter, closer communities. Cultural, technological, political change of large magnitude, in other words. There are days I think it can’t be done, and days – looking at the huge swath of organizing has managed to do in the last three years – when I think we might just figure out a way. But as I say, I’m not going to think any more about it. Back to work, all of us!" -- Bill McKibben

December 25, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Merry Christmas and hoping you have a wonderful day. Thanks to you all for reading these newsletters and (hopefully) finding them useful. And special thanks to Trudy MacDonald and others for such supportive words. A lovely present!

A bank teller from another country was helping me last week, and he asked about my mildly uncommon last name and had I been here long. He mentioned it was hard to fit in -- had I found that when I first moved here? Keep going to stuff, I urged. "You'll find community, or you'll find you are making community." I usually don't hand out (such inarticulate) advice, but when I thought about our various layers of community on P.E.I., and how wonderful they can be, I wanted to give him some hope and encouragement.

Today's Global Chorus essay is excerpts from speeches and essays of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), the anti-apartheid revolutionary and president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

<snip> "Peace is not just the absence of conflict, peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish, regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, class, caste or any other social markers of difference. Religion, ethnicity, language, social and cultural practices are elements which enrich human civilization, adding to the wealth of our diversity. Why should they be allowed to become a cause of division and violence? We demean our common humanity by allowing that to happen …

"Human beings will always be able to find arguments for confrontation and no compromise. We humans are, however, the beings capable of reason, compassion and change. May this be the century of compassion, peace and non-violence … in all the conflict-ridden parts of the world and on our planet universally." -- Nelson Mandela

December 24, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open today from 9AM to 2PM; then the next open day will be Wednesday, December 30th.

There was a CBC news story yesterday sending ripples of fear that food prices are set to make a big increase in the New Year, especially in the costs of imported fruits and vegetables. It was blaming it on "climate change" and the struggling Canadian dollar. It is true we have come to expect these to be available year-round in large grocery stores. The sometimes higher cost of local food, the differences in availability and variety from supermarkets, the stress to meet the recommendations of Canada's Food Guide for certain numbers of servings and particular groups of food -- these can be daunting and simply telling people to "buy local" isn't always enough. Glad for groups like P.E.I. Food Exchange and others reaching out to others with ideas, partnerships, and lots of events. And to all our local producers!


Related to food, one negative thing that happened in P.E.I. this year was the Co-op Food Stores changing the way they do business, without any real consultation with their membership. I am glad to see many of the same people still employed at the Charlottetown Walker Street location (now a Sobey's "low-frills banner" Foodland store), and the stores that retained Co-op affiliation that I have been in seem about the same, though with different house brands. But the loss of the Queen Street Co-op Food Store stings every time I pass by its empty storefront, and I see all the homes that are within walking distance.

But a positive thing is hearing of more and more creative farmers bringing in eggs to sell to town-dwellers, of people finding and being in a Winter CSA (or farmshare program), of farmers selling a certain dollar value box of meat/eggs that contains a nice variety, of people having (or planning) any size vegetable garden, and of more people raising some hens or a pig or two on a small holding.

I got two wonderful artists mixed up yesterday.

Tanya Davis is the poet who wrote and recited her poems for the movie Island Green.

Tara MacLean is a singer/songwriter from P.E.I., who now lives in B.C., I think. She was in the group Shaye with Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle a few years back.

Here is an in-depth article on some reflections of Tara's during that time:

Tara wrote the essay for Global Chorus for yesterday, which was so very powerful.

I realized this most clearly hearing a bit of an interview with Tanya Davis on CBC Radio's "The Story from Here" program yesterday. (Uh-oh, I messed up, I thought.) Tanya is the former poet laureate of Halifax, and was talking about the holidays. They played a recording of her reciting her poem, "Love, As Well As Gifts" about her ambivalence, her view of contradictions, at Christmas. Really powerful listening. It begins about 16:45 into the recording, which is incorrectly labelled as the second part of the show from December 30th, 2015 (oh, well, we all make mistakes):

(look for the "Part Two December 30th" description. This direct to audio player link for that recording may work, too.)


Today's Global Chorus is by an American writer and journalist, Kira Salak. She is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and contributing editor to the magazine. More about her here:

<snip> "Hope for this world must start from within. It must begin with a faith – a knowingness – that all that happens needs to happen. All of it. The 'good', the 'bad.' Everything is evolving to the next level.

"Through our triumphs, we bring grace to the world. Through our pains, our anguishes, we learn how to open our hearts to compassion.

"It is compassion that will save this world, and nothing else.

"It is compassion that will save all of us." -- Kira Salak

December 23, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Yesterday, while wandering around a big higher end store in Charlottetown, I ran into Danny, the site manager for the Plan B construction, also looking out-of-place. While all sorts of questions bubbled up ("SO how much did Plan B really cost in the end?" "Why is Tryon such a mess? Do you need people living in a tipi on-site to get you guys to build proper silt fences?"), I stuck to heartfelt good wishes (he really seems like a decent guy) and mentioned that Cindy Richards, who had lived in the tipi during Plan B construction, recently became a grandmother. That bit of news surprised him so much I didn't go further into the worrisome details, and we soon resumed our individual wanderings.

Cindy's daughter Danica and her partner recently had their first child, a little girl named Lily. Lily was born with some abdominal and spinal structural abnormalities, due to some embryonic folding errors that can happen. While the paediatric surgeons are quite cavalier about how straightforward it is to deal with the issues in a set of surgeries, it's obvious this will be hard emotionally on her parents, and financially difficult as they live and work several hours away.

A cousin of Danica's has started a crowd-funding initiative, to help the family offset expenses in the next few months. I would guess any amount would be helpful.

It looks like this initiative is going on until the end of the year.

From long ago, a Christmas cookie version, by a creative decorator, of Danny in his ubiquitous safety vest:

"The Renewable Energy Race is On" was an article yesterday about one aspect of the Climate Change agreement, and let's hope that applies to our Island home. The latest news about energy, from the P.E.I. government, is that plans for a new generator in Charlottetown (run on jet fuel) are on hold, and the P.E.I. Energy Corporation is considering all forms of renewable energy.

from this story on the CBC Website Monday:

The P.E.I. government has issued a request for proposals, looking for someone to help it prepare an update to the provincial energy strategy issued in 2009. (Chief Executive Officer of the P.E.I. Energy Corporation Kim) Horrelt said public consultations are planned for the spring of 2016, with the updated strategy ready for release in June.

So keep in mind that the first draft of the water act may be out and ready for public comment in Spring, and there will also be Democratic Renewal public meetings throughout most of 2016 (with a potential plebiscite on voting system reform in November of 2016); discussions about energy will be good to pay attention to, also.

More visits to the past: Note that Kim Horrelt once upon a time was listed on the design team for the Plan B highway, moved to Director of Infrastructure for a brief period, then worked at UPEI in the President's Office, before being tapped for this position. Very best wishes to her and high hopes for moving the province forward on energy.

Presto Chango! The three part report issued last week on Pesticides and Human Health" from the Chief Public Health Office, which was critiqued by Roger Gordon and by Sharon Labchuk, among others, disappeared from the provincial website yesterday for a short time. The first document is back with the addition of the authors' names and statements that none of them is affiliated with pesticide companies or organizations; the second and third parts are not available at this writing through the links shown here (go to the letter P and they are the last ones listed):

Tara MacLean is an Island singer/songwriter, mother and poet. She recites some of her verses in the voiceover for the film Island Green, by Mille Clarkes. The 25 minute film, by the way, is available from the National Film Board for download for about $6 or 48-hour rental for $3, if you haven't seen it before -- great to watch a family sharing a meal as you may be preparing to share some meals with friends and families in the next week.

She writes these remarkable words for today's Global Chorus:

"Instead of continuing to hurt and hide from the devastation I saw in the world, I picked up a guitar and sang what I felt. I sang to others. This one act of choosing not to hide saved my life. It released me and paved the way for a life of connection. I went to protests, blockaded the logging trucks that were clear-cutting the ancient rainforests and spent two weeks in jail. I had never felt so free.

"This is a crucial time for real connection. It is time to stop hiding. It is time to forgive. When Buffy Sainte-Marie was asked how she forgives those who have done so much harm to her people, she answered that we are a very young species, and in that understanding, she finds deep compassion for us all. This is an essential key to our survival.

"It seems that humanity is in the 'toddler' phase of its evolution. We have some words, but mostly we hit, bite and destroy. We are distracted all the time, mostly with our own suffering. We are blinded and trapped by anger, self-pity and righteousness. Mine! My view, my pain, my reactions! We crash into things, throw tantrums and create chaos.

"What if growing up means learning that the pain in life is a necessary part of the experience of being alive? It exists to forge us into stronger, greater beings. We hurt each other, we hurt the Earth and we make mistakes. This is how we learn. Knowing that, we could even be grateful for the suffering and practise Radical Forgiveness. So forgiveness and compassion really are the same: seeing clearly that we are not separate.

"Forgive yourself and everyone else. Let it go. We are all human and fallible. Stop crashing, start connecting. With this action you help to eliminate the seeds of war. This is a revolutionary act because it leads us out of ignorance. With an uncluttered mind, free from anxiety and self-pity, imagine what we could do! We could truly serve one another and the planet, united to face the bigger issues at hand. It is time for a revolution.

"Find your words. Sing your song. Save the world." -- Tara MacLean

December 22, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Mike Ruffalo is an actor from New York State, and has been involved in environmental issues for several years. He co-founded -- with Mark Z. Jacobson, the Stanford University professor who has the "roadmap" for 100% renewables world-wide by 2050 -- an organization called The Solutions Project promoting getting to 100% renewable energy.

In the article looking at one benefit of the Paris climate talks, Ruffalo writes, "The Renewable Energy Race is On."

Here is a snapshot of the 100% Renewable plan for Canada -- a map of plans for various countries is here.

and more about Mark Z. Jacobson's plans:


The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is conducting a survey on how they are doing communication with citizens. The deadline is the end of business Wednesday, December 23rd. While it is great to be consulted with, this is a little perplexing -- they are asking if they are doing a good job communicating and with their outreach. They are not asking if the public feels that the way the system works is dysfunctional (that as far as I understand it, the research to determine the safety of a pesticide or product is paid for and presented by the corporation which is set to make money on the sale of the product), or that many people are concerned and not 100% confident when a level of government or a lobby group says, "Since Health Canada has approved it, it must be safe."

The short survey is here and you could comment with other thoughts besides how their communication and outreach is working.


Here is an interesting analysis of the Senator Mike Duffy trial from yesterday, by Sandra Gorrosino, a businesswoman, columnist, and former Crown prosecutor, published in The National Observer:

"How the Crown Cooked its Own Goose on the Duffy Trial"


Eduard Müller is president of the University for International Cooperation in Costa Rica, and part of the World Commission on Protected Areas in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Bold is mine.

"In spite of great individual intelligence, humans have failed to achieve collective intelligence. Our western development style, brought upon most of the people on Earth, willingly or not, has come with intellectual reductionism, globalization of markets and monetization of cultures and nature. Competition is at the core whilst co-operation and solidarity are let behind. Current global challenges require solutions with major investments and structural reform where governments, private sector and society asa whole must act beyond self-interest, making decisions considering global interdependence and well-being. It is now clear that solutions won’t come from governments, global meetings or corporate responsibility alone. Civil society, meaning each individual through collective action, must change, based on ethical values and principles.

"Humans are capable of collective action when disaster strikes, going beyond self-interests to help others. The uniqueness of our current state is that, in spite of increasing local disasters, we have not fully acknowledged global disaster. If we wait much longer to act, we will go past tipping points announced by scientists. To avoid a global state of anomie, we have to jointly construct a community of life. The key lies in the intergenerational responsibility, where youth start demanding no further destruction of their possibilities to survive on a truly living planet. Involving youth means having them identify their life projects, getting past immediate satisfaction through sumptuous consumption, while investing true efforts to change and being rewarded with quality of life. Life projects today are not about jobs or professions; they are about achieving a higher level of consciousness where individual responsibilities come before individual rights, accompanied by behaviour according to consequences of our actions and inaction and not only individual well-being.

"More and more youth, especially those that have more freedom of thought and are not shaped by their parents to follow our current catastrophic patterns of development, are now looking for better livelihoods, based on quality, not quantity, where people are valued for what they are and not for what they have. We must collectively foster this new global society and accelerate the celebration of life on Earth." -- Eduard Muller

December 21, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmer Ranald MacFarlane makes some interesting points. Besides making fields smaller and not convenient for very large machinery, what are other reasons for not maintaining hedges? Of course planting trees might take arable land out of production, so there are economical factors to be considered - - do we value forestland as much as we should?

Bolding is mind.

Guardian link

Woodland, Hedges Valuable Assets to P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, December 17th, 2015

So here is a question for premier Wade MacLauchlan, coming off the climate change conference in Paris and saying P.E.I. has a lot to lose from global warming. Could your administration please bring stop deforestation in P.E.I?

Woodland is being cleared and hedges are being stripped off farms. Farmers brag about environmental farm plans and conservation awards. I think it is propaganda. Environmental farm plans should include a mandatory tree planting strategy.

Hedges and woodland catch snow. This recharges the water table. Right now, grass waterways just get water the heck off P.E.I., like a million acre flush toilet. Hedges and woodland also mitigate white out conditions. This will come in handy.

Wildlife needs hedges and woodlands. Roads catch all the snow now up my road because the trees are all gone. This makes snow plowing much harder. Above all that, trees tie up CO2.

Could you please put a stop to indiscriminate land clearing? Please get a strategy in place to keep the existing trees safe? Can we please replant hedges and get something about it in the environmental farm plans?

I await your response.

Ranald MacFarlane,

NFU member, Fernwood

Also, tree-planting is one thing, but forest-planning (or planting a variety of native species, not just a single "crop") is another to consider.

Elizabeth Kapu'uwailani Lindsey is a humanitarian and the first Polynesian explorer for the National Geographic Society. "An award-winning filmmaker and anthropologist, she is committed to ethnographic rescue, the conservation of vanishing indigenous knowledge and tradition."

More about her here:!about/cbk5

For today's Global Chorus she writes:

"There’s no greater power economically, politically or socially that can compare to the power that lies within each of us.

"The problem is we’ve forgotten who we are. In an era of technological advancement, we’re bloated with information yet starved for such wisdom. Malnourished and overwhelmed, millions lead lives of 'quiet desperation.' Connected 24/7, loneliness is at an all-time high.

"What to do?

" 'When the veil of forgetfulness is lifted,' my native Hawaiian elders said, 'and people remember that within them is a spark of the Divine, strife will cease.'

"The world doesn’t need us to save it. The world needs us to save ourselves. It doesn’t need our anxiety and fear. It needs our clarity and courage.

"Once we understand that what exists outside of us is a reflection of what stirs within, then and only then, will we be able to make a difference in the world. Until then, we offer Humanity nothing more than a pale imitation of who we might have been.

"And none of us is here for that.

"No one else will see the world through your eyes or express it as only you can.

"Imagine if a small woman in India thought that caring for the poor and the dying was too much trouble. We might never have been inspired by a nun named Theresa.

"This is the Power of One … one person’s willingness to be transformed. By changing ourselves, we change the world." -- Elizabeth Lindsey

December 20, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here are comments on the recent Paris COP21 talks and agreement, from The Leap Manifesto group:

(You can see it on-line here:

and any imbedded links shpuld work.)

Early this December, Naomi Klein and the Leap Manifesto team joined thousands of activists and grassroots leaders from around the world during the UN climate negotiations in Paris.

We were there to make clear that we refuse to leave our future in the hands of the world's heads of state.

And it was an opportunity to introduce The Leap Manifesto to a global audience, alongside some of our partners from the social justice, labour, environmental and Indigenous rights movement. Read a review of our Leap event in the New Republic.

The Leap Manifesto is directly inspiring projects the world-over – in Australia people are building a diverse coalition in preparation for their version of the Leap Manifesto, in England people are marching for "Jobs, Justice and the Climate", and several green and progressive parties across Europe have banded together to launch their own manifesto.

In an interview with Naomi Klein, even a CNN anchor praised the Leap Manifesto: "In reading it, it seems like a blueprint that could be used around the world."

We don't say this often, but we think CNN is right.

We knew that by the end of the Paris climate summit, heads of state wouldn't have signed anything that deserved to be called a success – not measured by what climate science is telling us is necessary, nor measured by what we know is politically possible.

But people from around the world were clear that our movements are on a roll and that we need a post-Paris peoples’ plan - and we think the Leap Manifesto can help.

Mark your calendars on February 29, 2016 as “International Leap Day."

We think Leap years are a great metaphor because, on that day, we change our human system in deference to the Earth’s revolution around the Sun. It is, after all, easier to adjust human-created laws than it is to change the laws of nature. And we think that people are ready to transform our political and economic system in a bold way.

We look forward to working with you all in the coming Leap year to build pressure on our government that cannot be ignored.


The Leap Manifesto team

More on The Leap Manifesto at their website , here:

Malgorzata “Maggie” Padlewska is a Polish-Canadian video-journalist, founder of One Year One World project, "an independent initiative to raise awareness about people and communities living in some of the the world's most fascinating but under-reported regions of the world."

This is a really interesting project with lots of the website.

Here is part of the essay she wrote for today's Global Chorus:

<snip> "We are at a crucial juncture, a moment with enough evidence to establish two clear options. The first, to continue along a destructive path driven by political or corporate greed, or second, to pause and rethink what it truly means to be human and the kind of life and behaviours that would sustain a healthy global community and planet for generations to come.

"Is there hope for the future? Yes, IF the world recognizes the devastating consequences of its current trajectory and redirects its behaviours to truly reflect a commitment to a healthy future – not focused on cleaning up the messes that would be created, but on preventing them from happening in the first place by learning from those who have been living that way for centuries." -- Maggie Padlewska

December 19, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Summerside's and Charlottetown's Farmers' Markets are open today. Summerside is also open next Wednesday the 23rd, and the Charlottetown one is open on Christmas Eve, NOT Boxing Day.


Since a pesticide study was issued earlier this week, I have wanted to comb through it a bit more, and hear from people who are very good at reviewing it. Please excuse how long this newsletter is this morning, but these discussions are worth it.

Here are two commentaries, from Dr. Roger Gordon, former professor of biology at UPEI, and Sharon Labchuk, environmentalist. My thanks to both of them for making the time to critique these and write their thoughts for people without a science background.

Roger Gordon writes: <snip> please ...draw people's attention to the fact that there are, in fact, 3 documents;

  • one is an extensive literature review that draws the very sound conclusion that it would be prudent to bring in measures to mitigate pesticide exposure,

  • a second shorter one that takes the findings from the first one, then incongruously draws the opposite conclusion (pesticides pose no significant health risk),

  • a third one which is an FAQ for the general public sounding out the second one in layperson's terms. Below are the 3 urls plus my own analysis of the study.

What is wrong with the report?

* Restricting the conclusions drawn from the study only to types of cancer that are high on PEI is not acceptable. Does this mean that other forms of cancer are not important? Other illnesses?

* The author(s) seem to think that comparisons of cancer rates with other provinces yield meaningful conclusions, when it is like comparing apples with oranges. Cancer is a multi-faceted mosaic of diseases. A snapshot in time across different geographic entities is not valid. Just because our rate of Parkinsons may be in line with other provinces doesn't mean we shouldn't do all we can to reduce all controllable factors that are at play.

* there is no time line for any of these cancer rates so we can't see a trend. Are they increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable? And there is no information about pesticide usage with which to correlate the cancer rate data.

* Throughout they use a Risk Assessment approach rather than adopting the Precautionary Principle. What is an acceptable risk for cancer? Is ANY risk acceptable?

* Referring to a snapshot in time, cancer is a disease that takes a long time in many cases to manifest itself. Long term studies are needed to draw the kind of conclusions that the authors draw. Retrospective studies are problematic in that they don't fully take into account the fact that pesticide usage has increased and is likely to continue increasing. Prospective studies may well show that we have higher cancer rates in some of those areas where such is not now the case.

* I don't accept the authors modus operandus of excluding from their analysis cell line and molecular studies and only including epidemiological ones. The laboratory studies can act as the canary in the mine, signalling what may eventually occur in populations. It is "old time" science to exclude such important studies. By doing so, the authors have cut own on their data base so that the "n" value is arbitrarily reduced, diminishing the value of the exercise. For example, 51 studies have been done to investigate possible links between childhood leukemia and pesticides. Only 13 of these were accepted in the authors' analysis. Only 7 of 31 skin cancer studies were accepted, and the list goes on.

* Tables 7 & 8 of the second doc show "fair evidence" to support a link between all pesticides (carbaryl and atrazine listed specifically - both widely used on PEI) and congenital abnormalities, Table 57 "good to fair" evidence for childhood leukemia and residential pesticides, Table 45 states "good to fair" evidence linking skin cancer to all pesticides and specifically to mancozeb, which is used on the island. Our melanoma rate is way above the national average (50%?), yet the authors make the mystifying statement that it is "slightly higher" and that reduction of pesticide use would have a "negligible" effect on skin cancer rates."

Sharon Labchuk authored this clear analysis of the study, published in yesterday's Guardian:

Pesticide Study "A New Low" - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Sharon Labchuk

Published on Friday, December 18th, 2015

Province will continue support for potato industry ‘hooked on 20th century fossil fuel-dependent agricultural practices’

Out of the blue, the P.E.I. government has conjured up a large, expensive, scientific study that admits pesticides are associated with all sorts of terrible health effects but, without supporting evidence, concludes pesticide use in P.E.I. does not “pose a significant health issue.”

Incredibly, the study is anonymous and was put on the government website. Seriously flawed and with obvious bias in support of the use of pesticides, it’s no wonder no one has claimed authorship.

(The study was released by P.E.I.’s Chief Public Health Office)

Without knowing the identity of the scientists, advisors and reviewers involved in the study, their credentials can’t be evaluated and the usual statements declaring any conflict of interest are absent.

As such, the study has zero scientific credibility. It’s a literature review of over 300 selected published studies showing a multitude of serious health effects.

Stating that up to 46.1 per cent of childhood leukemia can be attributed to maternal pesticide exposure, the authors inexplicably conclude that eliminating pesticide exposure would only result in a “negligible to very low reduction in risk.”

Are we expected to believe that Islanders are somehow magically immune to these chemicals?

The study is heavily weighted in favour of studying the health of pesticide applicators “because the majority of pesticide exposure, particularly in P.E.I. where there are no large pesticide manufacturing or processing facilities, is in the agricultural sector.”

Of course, this is ridiculous and the authors provide no supporting evidence.

Considerable evidence does exist, however, to show bystander (non-occupational) pesticide exposure in P.E.I. is one of the highest in the country and that we are one of the most intensively sprayed areas.

The authors of the P.E.I. study claim a U.K. study found women who “sometimes or always” eat organic food have “a significant increase in the risk of breast cancer.”

What? I read the U.K. study and found, surprise, surprise, the P.E.I. study misrepresented the findings.

The U.K. study concluded that women who eat organic food have 20 per cent less risk of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), but after adjusting for various lifestyle factors, the authors say they “cannot rule out chance as an explanation for this finding”.

It’s true this study did find a nine per cent increase in breast cancer for women who ate organic “usually or always” (not “sometimes” as the P.E.I. study claims), but after dismissing the 20 per cent decrease in NHL for the organic women, the authors were even more inclined to dismiss the smaller nine per cent increase in breast cancer, attributing it to lifestyle factors they hadn’t factored into their calculations and the possibility that women eating organic were more likely to attend breast screening clinics.

The authors of the U.K. study did not conclude that women who sometimes or always eat organic food have a “significant increase in the risk of breast


The misrepresentation of this study is an underhanded stab in the back for P.E.I.’s organic farming sector and raises questions about who pressured government to do the study, how much did it cost and who paid for it?

The authors repeatedly note that rates for some diseases in P.E.I. are similar to those in the rest of Canada, a worn tactic used by pesticide apologists trying to “prove” that exposure to pesticides in P.E.I. therefore can’t be linked to, say, the one million-plus pounds of carcinogenic pesticides dumped into our environment annually.

But some cancers in P.E.I. could very well be caused by our extreme exposure to pesticides, while people elsewhere with the same cancers are exposed to different carcinogenic chemicals.

We don’t need to lay claim to the highest rates of cancer in Canada to justify concern that the cancers we do have are associated with pesticide exposure.

This anonymous study is a new kind of low for the P.E.I. government and signals that Premier MacLauchlan will continue support for a withering potato industry hooked on 20th century fossil fuel-dependent agricultural practices that have laid waste to soil, water, wildlife, human health and climate.

Sharon Labchuk is a member of Earth Action…/Pesticide-study-%2526lsquo…/1


**please note that the link does not work (at this writing it says:The page you tried to retrieve cannot be found! and the op-ed piece is not listed with the other letters and pieces published yesterday. An Oversight?

David Buckland talks about Global Warming, and our reluctance to see what is in front of us, in today's Global Chorus:

<snip>"When I set up Cape Farewell in 2001, the aim was to create a different language of climate change with which to engage the public. Over 140 artsbased practitioners have taken part in these voyages, openly engaging with more than 45 scientists, creating artworks, exhibitions, books and films that have toured worldwide. This international effort, including people from China to Mexico, has brought distinctly different cultural sensibilities to the story of climate change’s causes and impacts."<snip> -- David Buckland

His very interesting website:

December 18, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Event today:

Voluntary Resource Centre Open House, 3PM, 81 Prince Street, Charlottetown. All welcome.

Saturday and Sunday, December 19th and 20th:

PEI Escape Rooms at VRC giving to PEI Food Exchange.

More info:

or call the VRC at 368-7337

from the Council of Canadian's December 2015 newsletter

There has been a lot of discussion of whether the recent climate change agreement signed in Paris is a "climate victory or climate fail."

"While this agreement has been presented as a step forward in the global movement to address climate change, concrete actions are urgently needed to turn this goal into a reality." The article has a link analyzing the agreement further and looks at some issues like proposed pipelines.

The newsletter is here:

Council of Canadians' December 2015 Newsletter on-line link

And about the Council of Canadians:

Founded in 1985 by a handful of citizens including Tommy Douglas, Margaret Atwood and Farley Mowat, the Council of Canadians is Canada's leading social justice organization. When you support the Council of Canadians, you raise your voice on social, economic and political issues and help build a strong, independent and diverse Canada.

The vice-chair of the Council of Canadians is Leo Broderick, who gives to very much to the organization and the Island.

Also from their website:

Humanity is at a crossroads. Economic globalization and unregulated market capitalism have divided the world – and Canada – into rich and poor as at no time in living history and endangered the ability of the planet to sustain life. Tragically, most governments support an economic system that puts unlimited growth above the vital needs of people and the planet. The Council of Canadians is part of a global civil society movement to drive transformative change in the absence of true leadership by governments.

The foundation of our work is the education and empowerment of people to fight for the values and policies we believe in. Our supporters and network of more than 60 active volunteer chapters create a powerful voice for social and environmental justice. We work to hold governments accountable and challenge the unbalanced power of corporations, promoting positive social change in Canada and the world.

We believe this path must be founded on a deep understanding of our place within life and nature. We are the only species capable of profoundly altering the biosphere. That must inspire us to humility, not arrogance; to stewardship, not exploitation; and to social solidarity, not competition.

Maude Barlow -- a name people recognize instantly. She is a national treasure, a tireless force of good. And she is one of those wonderful people that, even in the middle of a demanding travelling and speaking schedule, takes the time to stop and meet people and listen to their stories.

More about her:

And she writes for Global Chorus:

"With all my heart I believe that hope is a moral imperative. I could not do my work otherwise.

"However, if truth be told, there are days when it is hard to hold on to this place of hope. A friend says she is numbed by 'apocalypse fatigue.' Not me. Every new study on Arctic melting, species extinction and water depletion invades my soul.

"Is there a way past the current crisis? Yes, there is. But it lies on a different path from the dominant economic and development model of our time. Growth, deregulation, privatization, free markets, more stuff travelling farther with fewer barriers – that is the dominant political narrative currently driving most governments, the big-business community and global institutions. It is killing the planet and disenfranchising billions.

"An important recent study found that the global trade in food is consuming the bulk of the world’s water heritage and depleting groundwater far faster than it can be replenished. One American environmentalist said that unlimited growth has the same DNA as the cancer cell. It has to turn on its host tosurvive. Now we are being told that unless we place a price on Nature and bring it into the market economy, it will not survive.

"The way forward lies with an alternative narrative. Instead of seeing Nature as a 'resource' for our convenience, pleasure and profit, we need to see it as a living ecosystem from which all life springs, and adapt our lives and laws to those of the natural world. That means challenging the growth imperative and moving to more local economies of scale. It means recognizing that Nature has rights too. Conservation, preservation, biological diversity, co-operation, local sustainable food production, fair trade, economic justice, public trust: these are the hallmarks of the path forward. "Bolivia’s President Evo Morales says the goal must be to live well, not to live better than others.

"Listen to the Earth. Listen to the ancient peoples. The answers lie there." — Maude Barlow

A note that you can still comment to the Environmental Advisory Council (until January 15th) on aspects for them to consider regarding a comprehensive Water Act for P.E.I. at

December 17, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Cornwall's cosmetic pesticide bylaw passed second reading last night and should go into effect January 1st, 2016. It lists approved chemicals and has a process for residents to deal with infestations.

Some points from The Guardian article by Nigel Armstrong (link below)

Councillor Elaine Barnes brought forward the bill; Councillor Irene Dawson (who is a member of the provincial Environmental Advisory Council, if the name sounds familiar), feels that when municipalities enact their own bylaws they take the Province "off the hook". She strongly asserts she does not approve of the use of pesticides. The bill passed 4-1. Dawson introduced a resolution which also passed calling on the Province to strengthen pesticide legislation and further demanding that it "accept the sole responsibility for regulating and enforcement of all legislation on P.E.I. related to pesticides." Resident Christine Gordon Manley worked very hard to communicate and inform residents and Council about the issue; congratulations to her.

Stratford's bylaw is identically worked and passed in August of this year.

Leah-Jane Hayward, former NDP candidate in the recent federal and provincial elections, and no stranger to speaking up positively about improving life on P.E.I., wrote this letter to the editor recently:

Guardian letter to the editor on wind turbines

Wind turbines in shallow waters surrounding P.E.I. offer energy options - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, December 14th, 2015

Premier MacLauchlan seems to have made a positive impression in Paris. He states P.E.I. and islanders as a whole, will indeed need to make changes and a new energy strategy will be announced in the New Year.

May I suggest, Mr. Premier, you make use of the shallow waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait. The Netherlands has hundreds of wind turbines in the waters off their coast.

The Gulf and Strait do not have large ships navigating near P.E.I. and the fishers are close enough to the shore they would not be effected. To make this even better for islanders, have these turbines owned and operated by the taxpayers so any profits remain on P.E.I. A win(d) win(d) solution.

Leah-Jane Hayward,

North Wiltshire

Californians Jonathon Button and Quinn Vanderburg co-founded a company called Life Out of the Box, which sells items like hats and passport holders and bracelets and puts the money into school supplies and meals for kids in developing countries, in addition to encouraging people make unconventional choices. More about them on the website:

Here's an audio interview with them on the podcast "The Creative Giant":

Jonathon writes for today's Global Chorus:

"Within every individual there is a need to give and contribute to the greater of humankind. We all want to make a difference. The main hurdle is that most of us don’t know where to start. Through education, society can further understand what the biggest issues are. Through understanding these problems, individuals can break them down into smaller obstacles which can be attacked.

"With Life Out of the Box, we have been on an evolving adventure throughout Third World countries searching for these issues and understanding the source of them. What we have found is that many of those in need simply lack the tools to further develop into the person they want to become, which would lead them to further contributing to society and helping humanity. Without knowledge, it is impossible for the world to understand the problems, which results in a lack of action.

"Life Out of the Box is dedicated to inspiring people to get out there, explore the world, learn and then take action towards making a difference. It is easy to think out of the box, but the key is making it happen and actually living your Life Out of the Box to make the world a better place for all. Thoughts and ideas are a necessary step towards accomplishing the goal, but they are nothing without actually taking the steps towards making them a reality.

"I have great faith in the future. As the world is becoming more connected through social media, the understanding of the world becomes more clear and enables individuals to recognize the needs that must be addressed in order to ensure our existence. Through this new awareness, we can reflect on our actions and understand how they are currently contributing in a positive or negative way to the globe. Life is great. It should never be taken for granted and together we must contribute towards ensuring that all living species can experience this precious gift." -- Jonathon Button

December 16, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Events and happenings scattered in the newsletter:

Tonight, December 16th:

Cornwall Town Council meeting, 7:30PM, Town Hall. This is where the second reading of a bill regarding a cosmetic pesticide ban is supposed to take place.

Friday, December 18th:

Voluntary Resource Centre Open House, 3PM, 81 Prince Street, Charlottetown. All welcome. The Citizens' Alliance is an organizational member of the VRC, and it makes such a difference having a place to hold small meetings, have a mailbox, etc. -- and be a part of that supportive community.

Saturday and Sunday, December 19th and 20th:

PEI Escape Rooms at VRC giving to PEI Food Exchange.

"...a charity benefit just before the Holidays! On the weekend of December 19th and 20th, 20% the cost of admission will be donated to the PEI Food exchange!"

More info:

of call the VRC at 368-7337

From Samara Canada, engaging and encouraging participation in democracy, this notice:

Today, Wednesday, December 16th, at 3PM Atlantic Time, "the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau will be answering questions in a year-end town hall hosted by Maclean’s at Ottawa's National Arts Centre.

"We're excited because 23 of Samara’s 2015 Everyday Political Citizens will be in the audience to see and hear the Prime Minister in person. We thank Maclean's for inviting our Everyday Political Citizens to join the one-hour event.

The interview will begin with questions for the Prime Minister from journalists Paul Wells (Maclean’s), Rachel Giese (Chatelaine) and Alec Castonguay (L’actualité). Mr. Trudeau will then answer questions from a live studio audience, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

You can join the town hall conversation on Twitter (here) using the hashtag #mactownhall."

You can watch the town hall streamed live online at or Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC) on-line:

It will also be rebroad cast on CPAC at 8PM our time..

More info about repeat broadcast times can be found here:

More about Samara and the fantastic national and local people in it here:

Here is something happening in January -- Thursday the 21st, but you'll want to save the date:

Institute of Island Studies Symposium -- Island Mobility, Migration and Population Issues: A Public Symposium

The current dynamics of population change in Prince Edward Island will be the subject of a Public Symposium to be held at UPEI’s MacKinnon Lecture Theatre, Room 242, Don and Marion McDougall Hall, on Thursday, January 21, beginning at 7:00 p.m. (The storm date is January 22.)

Population change has always been at the core of the development of small islands – and it is no different on Prince Edward Island. Every day the public media deliver news about some aspect of population: youth outmigration, rural depopulation, an aging workforce, temporary foreign workers, refugees, wealthy immigrant investors…. The upcoming Public Symposium will provide an opportunity for the public to hear about and contribute to the debate on several of the salient population issues that are crucial to the future of Prince Edward Island.

This event is sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services.

There will be three featured speakers, beginning with Dr. Jim Randall, a geographer by training and a professor in the Island Studies program at UPEI. He is also Chair of the Institute of Island Studies and Co-ordinator of the Master of Arts in Island Studies. He will provide an overview of the major population changes taking place on PEI from a “small islands” perspective.

Katie Mazer is a PhD Candidate in Geography at the University of Toronto researching the movement of workers between the Maritimes and natural resource industries 'out west'. Katie's presentation will focus on Islanders going west and migrant workers coming into the province through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Looking at government policies and economic forces that pressure people to leave home for work, her presentation asks: Why do so many workers have to go so far to make a living?

The third speaker will be Tony Wallbank, a retired business owner and draft-horse enthusiast who has spearheaded the upcoming migration of two communities of Amish farmers from southern Ontario to eastern Prince Edward Island. The first Amish settlers will arrive next spring. He will tell us about the Amish, explain why they find rural PEI attractive, and review some of the challenges in this process of community resettlement.

Members of the public are cordially invited to attend. Admission is free. Following the presentations, there will be ample time for discussion and questions from the floor.

For further information, contact Laurie Brinklow, Co-ordinator, Institute of Island Studies at or 902-894-2881.

Atossa Soltani is the founder and Board member of the organization Amazon Watch ("Supporting indigenous peoples. Protecting the Amazon.")

"We stand at the crossroads of history, where our collective actions over the next decade will determine the fate of humanity for the next millennia. At present, we are crossing many tipping points and face multiple crises, the most alarming being global climate chaos. I believe we have no choice but to change course to ensure that future generations will inherit a livable world.

"Many indigenous peoples hold as their aspiration to be 'good ancestors' to future generations. I believe that if we are to survive, this must now become our collective aspiration. To have lasting change, we need to reshape our values and world- views. Growing numbers of us realize the dire need for rapid systemic change. However, the majority continue living in a business as usual mindset, in what could be called collective denial.

"Indigenous peoples represent only 4 per cent of the world’s population, but their territories hold 80 per cent of the Earth’s biodiversity. From these guardians we can learn how to hold all life sacred and live in greater balance with Nature.

"The ecosystems of the planet that produce our oxygen, water, rainfall and soils are key to our survival. Safeguarding and restoring the planet’s remaining forests, mangroves, coral reefs and other productive ecosystems is a critical priority. And dismantling global corporate economic domination and bringing back responsive government is a prerequisite. We can bring the world to embrace local traditional food systems, decentralize energy production, cut overall resource consumption, phase out fossil fuels, overhaul our transportation systems and improve the condition of women and the poor to stabilize our population.

"We have the knowledge, the understanding, the creativity and the technology to act in time. The people who understand this urgency need to step into leadership and make it their life’s work to transform and recreate our world. There is the analogy of when the U.S. was on the eve of the Second World War and called on its citizenry to join the war effort the the majority did, helping the U.S. significantly retool its economy in under a year. That’s what we need now. All hands on deck!" -- Atossa Soltani

December 15, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This piece from Monday's Guardian article reviews the key points of the last several months of presentations, and deals with the need of lasting and meaningful citizen engagement, even if the name also brings up an egregious United States intelligence-gathering technique.

Catherine O'Brien's op-ed in yesterday's Guardian

Published on Monday, December 14th, 2015, The Guardian

Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water supports Water Board - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine O'Brien

Health of P.E.I.’s aquatic ecosystems must be goal of Water Act as first and non-negotiable priority

The final presentations to the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) regarding the Water Act have been made.

The EAC will continue to accept comments and concerns until January 15. (

The process has been open, transparent and participatory. The sessions were well-attended, and many people took the opportunity to ask questions or make comments during the open mic part of the evening.

It was impressive how many wonderful, detailed and well-researched presentations several groups and individuals made. Many of the people who worked on those presentations are volunteers. It just shows how important and meaningful these public sessions were, and how serious the issues regarding our water are for Islanders.

Members of the EAC have a daunting task ahead of them. At the final session, following presentations by Crop Life and Fertilizer Canada, it was mentioned that the EAC and the report must “find a balance.” What are we trying to balance? Is it economic growth with the health of the environment? The health of P.E.I.’s aquatic ecosystems must be the goal of the Water Act and our first and non-negotiable priority. If our environment continues to be degraded, it stands to reason the economy will also suffer. Management of the economy must be looked at through the lens of environmental security.

The precautionary principle was brought up in many of the presentations. This must be an enforceable principle, embedded in the act. In 1992, the United Nations adopted the following definition: “Where there may be threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.” In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada expanded this definition to include “human health.”

The precautionary approach recognizes that because there are limits to being able to determine and predict environmental impacts with scientific certainty, we must anticipate and prevent environmental degradation without waiting for proof that the environment will be impaired.

Many presenters also spoke about intergenerational equity, or making sure that we are protecting the environment for several generations. In what state will we leave this Island for our grandchildren and their grandchildren to come? This guiding principle should also be included in the legislation.

The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water strongly believes that citizen involvement should continue well beyond these consultations. We advocate a more democratic and inclusive process where citizens would have a collaborative role with government in the developing the Act itself, regulations, and in water governance and decision-making.

We have recommended such a “Water Board” to the EAC in our last presentation that would include a diverse group of citizens who have a primary commitment to ensuring and protecting the health of ecosystems. This board could include scientists and academics, First Nations, watershed groups, environmentalists, farmers, fishers, municipalities, and others. We will be submitting a more detailed proposal to the EAC for such a Water Governance Board in the New Year.

It is critical that we don’t take our water for granted and that we work to protect it now, and into the future.

Catherine O’Brien is Chair, The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water,


Thanks to Leo Cheverie for one of his wonderful "fyi" postings on social media.

from an article on from December 11th, 2015

"Environmentalists don’t usually mention it but teaching and caring for kids doesn’t burn much carbon. Nor does caring for the sick. When we care for each other, we care for the planet. So it makes no sense that these are the very sectors under relentless attack by cost-cutting politicians.

Which is why we felt that it was absolutely crucial to say something else in the Leap**: That austerity is a manufactured crisis. That the money we need is out there — we just have to get at it. And we know exactly how to do it: An end to fossil fuel subsidies. Financial transaction taxes. Increased royalties on fossil fuel extraction. Higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy people. A progressive carbon tax. Cuts to military spending." - -- --- author, environmentalist and activist Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything

**referring to The Leap Manifesto, here.

David Jewitt is an astronomy professor at University of California, Los Angeles:

"Some historical perspective: up until 500 years ago you, as a citizen, would understand the world through the words of an authority figure. It could be a king or an emperor, or perhaps a religious leader in charge of a rigid system of permissible thoughts, questions and actions. Your authority figure would lack any real understanding of the world, but he (it was almost always a 'he') would point to the writings of the ancients, perhaps to Aristotle, to Confucius or to something in the Bible, as the ultimate basis of his authority. Nobody could see the world clearly under those circumstances.

"Since then most authoritarian political and religious systems have cracked, allowing our two great inventions of modern science and practical democracy to blossom. The all-wise leader is replaced by the idea that truth can best be found through insightful observation accompanied by critical reasoning and free thought. The world still has religion, and a few fading dictatorships persist, but there is no serious doubt that science and democracy are transcendent.

"So, 500 years ago I would have doubted our chances for the future, but today I am extremely optimistic. For the first time in recorded history, our eyes are open to the world, giving us enormous power both to appreciate its beauty and to identify and address its problems. We have never been more perceptive, more powerful or more capable. We have never been better placed to determine our own future on this planet than we are now." -- David Jewitt

December 14, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

"And the Paris Agreement is accepted. The COP21 decision is agreed. What does it all mean?" -- that starts federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May's last blog post from the Paris climate meetings.

"You will undoubtedly hear some denounce the Paris Agreement for what it does not do. It does not respond with sufficient urgency. It does not use the levers available to governments to craft a treaty that is enforceable with trade sanctions to add some teeth. Those criticisms are fair. <snip> Nevertheless, the Paris Agreement is an historic and potentially life-saving agreement. It does more than many of us expected when the conference opened on November 30. It will be legally binding. It sets a long term temperature goal of no more than 1.5 degrees as far safer than the (also hard to achieve) goal of no more than 2 degrees. In doing so, it may save the lives of millions. It may lead to the survival of many small nations close to sea level. It may give our grandchildren a far more stable climate and thus a more prosperous and healthy society. It clearly means the world has accepted that most known reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground.

It is absolutely true that Canada announcing support for 1.5 degrees mid-way through the conference made a huge difference in keeping that target in the treaty. I heard that from friends and contacts around the world." <snip>

The rest of her blog is here:


Wednesday, December 16th:

Cornwall Town Council meeting, 7:30PM, Cornwall Town Hall. The cosmetic pesticide legislation passed first reading last month, and could go through second and perhaps third reading at this council meeting. I am told if it passes, the bylaw would go into effect in January. Consider attending.

Petition (calling on Cornwall Town Council to initiate a ban on cosmetic pesticides) site and related information

Richard Raiswell's second column from late November on the P.E.I. Legislature's Fall sitting was about the Finance Minister and his sugar-coating of the fiscal update, and his refusal to answer any questions surrounding the e-gaming file. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Minister Roach’s Bad Week

Last week was not a good week for Finance Minister Allen Roach.

It began on Tuesday when he presented the government’s fall fiscal update. Predictably, his talking points painted a rosy picture of the province’s economy: GDP is up he said--and strong growth is set to continue. Average wages are up, too. Unemployment is down, and so’s the cost of living.

Despite these positive signs, Roach predicts the province will spend almost $33 million more than it takes in this year.

That’s not what he said five months ago. Back in June, when he delivered his first budget, he told us that the shortfall would come in at under $20 million.

That’s quite a difference in just five months.

Roach now says that he’s going to miss his original targets because of increased spending on education, employee benefits and health. But these costs were predictable back in June—it’s not as if we’ve had a sudden increase in the number of teachers, or pension claimants since then.

As all commentators noted in June, the problem was that the government’s original budget was based upon some wildly optimistic assumptions. Back then, Roach predicted that PEI’s economy would grow faster than the rest of the country this year, as the Premier’s Sales Force PEI criss-crossed the world selling Island products.

Things haven’t turned out that way—and now Roach has had to concede that the province’s rate of growth will be half of what he projected in the summer.

Not to worry though—Roach says we’re still on track to balance the books by the end of 2016.

Unrealistic growth projections, missed budgetary targets—this all has a rather familiar ring to it.

And Roach’s week did not get any better because—on Wednesday—PC MLA James Aylward pulled yet another skeleton out of the Liberal e-gaming closet. Aylward tabled a document compiled by Innovation PEI to woo Capital Market Technologies, one of the companies at the heart of the province’s failed e-gaming initiative.

This document was put together under Roach’s watch when he was the minister responsible for innovation—and was meant to showcase PEI as a great place for business. It boasts about PEI’s cheap but plentiful supply of highly skilled IT workers, along with all sorts of financial and tax incentives that qualified companies can take advantage of. And it names a dozen or so gaming and service companies that have chosen to do just that.

It even claims that PEI generally loses only a couple of work days each winter because of bad weather.


But it’s the final section outlining how to go about setting up a company on PEI that concerned Aylward—and should concern all Islanders—because it noted that when they set up in PEI “Most companies” **also set up an off-shore subsidiary to minimise their Canadian tax bill.

It looks very much like Innovation PEI—the Innovation PEI that Roach’s ministry was meant to supervise—was suggesting ways for CMT to get around the Canadian tax system.

Aylward hammered Roach on this point in the House. But Roach tried to avoid answering his questions. He said that the e-gaming file was before the Auditor General and so he wouldn’t comment on the issue.

Yes, the e-gaming file is before the Auditor General. But what about the broader issue: that most companies re-locating to PEI get around Canadian taxes? That’s not before the Auditor General—and if the government is investing public money in companies who are doing this, the public should know who they are. And if the government is actually promoting this kind of activity, that’s utterly outrageous.

So let’s hear what the minister has to say about that.

During the election, we were promised a new Liberal government—a transparent, responsible government for once.

But if Roach’s problems last week are any indication, nothing has changed at all.

For Mainstreet, I’m Richard Raiswell


** “Most companies set up a subsidiary of the parent [company] and flow revenue and costs through an off-shore operation (i.e. US), limiting the tax implication in Canada.” Prince Edward Island, Beautiful, Affordable, Scalable, Sustainable, p. 12.

Vegan chef Christy Morgan writes for today's Global Chorus:

"The easiest way to make the greatest impact on the environment is through our diet.

"Agriculture and factory farms create more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. Also, our desire for quick, packaged food and produce that is not seasonal to our region creates a heavy drain on our precious resources. Use your dollars more wisely by choosing whole foods over packaged, organic over conventional and local over transported. These choices are more healthful in the long run for you and your family.

"Visit your local farmers market to see what’s in season during the year. You may discover some new and exciting vegetables you’ve never tried before! The most important thing we can do for our health and the health of the planet is to eat a diet rich in natural, whole foods. Eat foods in all the colours of the rainbow. Kale, lettuce and celery for green; carrots, yams and oranges for orange; eggplant for purple; cabbage, strawberries and apples for red; pineapple, squash and grains for yellow; grapefruit for pink; beans for brown; cauliflower, daikon and tofu for white. Fruits and vegetables that are beautifully coloured are rich in antioxidant elements that protect us from free radical and make our health soar.

"Start by adding in the good stuff and then crowd out the things that aren’t serving your greater good. A balanced, whole food, plant-based diet can give you the energy you need to make your body, mind and spirit happy as well as nourish the planet!" -- Christy Morgan

December 13, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

As you have likely heard, a climate deal was reached and agreed upon at the COP21 talks in Paris. When so many of the previous meetings ended with discord and finger pointing, or with the former Canadian government dragging its heels through the meetings, this deal yesterday is just fantastic.

from an Ecowatch news story:

Though today is certainly historic, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, points out that “this deal alone won’t dig us out the hole we’re in, but it makes the sides less steep. The deal sets out the objective of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, but the emissions targets on the table take us closer to 3 degrees,” he added. “That’s a critical problem, but it’s one with a solution. Renewable energy is already doing heavy-lifting across the globe, but now its moment must come. It’s the only technology mentioned in the Paris Agreement. There’s a yawning gap in this deal, but it can be bridged by clean technology. We’re in a race between the roll-out of renewables and rising temperatures, and the Paris Agreement could give renewables a vital boost. The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned.”

As for P.E.I.?

Darcie Lanthier, energy technician among other vocations and avocations, ticked off some suggestions on social media yesterday:

There are lots of changes to be made where government can help. Transportation and home heating are the biggest problems so let's fix them first.

Add incentives on electric cars and build more charging stations

Downsize all government vehicles, start purchasing electric cars and busses

Loosen Maritime Electric's grip on power generation and distribution

Write a building code that supports passive solar and water efficient housing

Eliminate bylaws that don't allow houses to be south facing

Retrain all plumbing and electrical inspectors

Build carpool parking lots

Extend bike lanes that run 10-15 kms out of major towns

This summer, let's hire students to do energy upgrades for low-income homeowners

Put every provincial building on an energy management plan.

Support organic farming

Install solar PV on all government buildings

Stop thinking that burning wood is a big improvement. 'Bio-mass' is not carbon neutral and burning it causes air pollution and respiratory problems.

A fine Christmas list, or to-do list for 2016. Let's tell our elected officials.

The Guardian (P.E.I.) printed a story about Premier Wade MacLauchlan's trip to Paris and comments, in Saturday's paper. Fortunately, the on-line version corrected the eye-opening line that P.E.I. had lost 43 percent of its coastline (it's on average 43 centimetres).

Bold is mine. From:

Premier says Islanders will have to make lifestyle changes to address climate change concerns - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Published on Saturday, December 12th, 2015

Paris delegates were impressed at P.E.I.’s impressive strides in embracing green energy

Prince Edward Islanders will have to begin making some big lifestyle changes as more urgent action is needed on climate change, says P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan.

MacLauchlan took part in the COP21 climate change summit in Paris earlier this week, participating in panels and discussions with leaders from across the country and the globe.

He said P.E.I.’s story resonated especially in highlighting the need for more immediate action to stop the negative effects of climate change.

“The issue of rising sea levels and vulnerability and adaptation is very much one that people appreciate in the case of P.E.I. when I tell people like (federal Environment Minister) Catherine McKenna that we lost 43 centimetres of our shoreline on average last year, that brings it home.”

But COP21 delegates were also impressed at P.E.I.’s impressive strides in embracing green energy, notably how Prince Edward Island generates up to 80 per cent of its electricity from wind during peak periods.

Nonetheless, MacLauchlan said Islanders will have to do more to reduce emissions and conserve resources.

Transportation is one of the biggest sources of emissions in P.E.I. something that will have to be addressed partly through technology and partly through an examination of how often Islanders use their vehicles, MacLauchlan said.

Lifestyle adjustments can also make a difference, he added. “If teenagers take shorter showers that will help. If people go for a walk in the woods rather than turning on their cooling systems in August that will help.”

MacLauchlan says he is confident Islanders can do their part to make the changes needed to stop the negative effects of the warming planet. He pointed to improvements in smoking rates over the years as proof changes can happen when people recognize risks and unite in effort to make improvements. “We won’t have any choice,” he said.

“This is now more urgent than people have understood it to be and if we’re looking at getting down to the kind of emissions levels that are being contemplated by the people who are negotiating in Paris we’re going to have to make some big changes.”

The P.E.I. premier plans to unveil a new energy strategy for the province early in the new year that will include his government’s climate change plan. “That will undoubtedly include working on lower emissions, working on more green energy mix and working on mitigation and adaptation.”


Raffi Cavoukian, the beloved singer, activist, and founder of the "Centre for Child Honouring -- respecting Earth and Child" writes for today's Global Chorus:

"In every age, love is redefined. In our time, this will be in terms of what we do to restore our children’s stolen future. With climate change, the greatest threat on Earth, the global family needs a survival shift in awareness."

"Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market … You grownups say you love us. But I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words." — Severn Cullis-Suzuki, age 12 (Rio, 1992)

"Every society’s treasure is its young, its promise to a better world. Yet an uncaring, bottom-line commerce that ignores social and planetary costs is wreaking havoc. No spiritual tradition condones this abuse of Creation and her young. The remedy is an integrated vision I call Child Honouring, one that simultaneously respects Earth and Child.

"We can’t overlook what’s known about the Child – humanity’s foremost learning system. Being human is not neutral: infants must learn to feel their loving nature or flounder. Failure is not an option; it scars lifetimes.

"Creating the conditions that honour infants’ formative needs is the most practical way to shape humane and sustainable cultures, ones that grow mature, resourceful, compassionate individuals. That’s why Child Honouring is a universal ethic to enrich life for generations.

"Fast forward a Copernican shift in consciousness: from the 'childism' prejudice of societies centred on adults to a child-honouring world in which the early-years ecology benefits all. For our survival, Godspeed a new peacemaking economy, a 'bionomy' to revive 'global chi.'

"Each of us can be a change-maker. Shun ideology. Embrace radical inquiry. Empower your inner 8-year-old to free your heart’s most generous impulses. Live along your highest spiritual values. Honour the young.

"In the Child, the human face of ecology, we find our reflection and infinite potential. The well-tended garden yearns to yield riches." -- Raffi Cavoukian

December 12, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

An event tomorrow:

Sunday, December 13th,

Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble concert (fundraiser for refugees), 3PM, Colonel Gray High School auditorium. If you aren't familiar with the location, the entrance is one set of doors on the side of the building by the parking lot furthest from the intersection of Kirkwood Drive ("the student lot"); I am sure the right door will be obvious. Admission by donation.

"The 19-member Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble will perform standards of the Basie-Ellington tradition as well as modern tunes by the best of today's jazz composers. Admission is by donation with all proceeds going to the Interfaith Refugee Sponsorship Group."

Facebook event details

Climate Change:

Keeping up with what's going on at the COP21 meetings:

The Guardian (the one in Britain)'s website on Friday, summarizing up to that point.

A UPEI student recently started a petition requesting the University describe if and how much financial investment it has in fossil fuels (it does --"less than $29 million of investments of $296 million -- so almost ten percent), and start to divest. The university said it is contemplating discussing divestment and will start that conversation in the spring.

Here is the petition, if you as greater UPEI community members want to consider adding your name to it: petition on UPEI and fossil fuel divestment

(I should add that there were other petitions on this same topic started in the past, but this one was timed with the Climate Change talks and got media attention.)

In two provinces, the Chief Public Health Offices have been in the news this week -- first in P.E.I., for trying to pinpoint an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease which happened to some people who ate at the Delta Hotel last week.

But there are disquieting events:

In New Brunswick, the Chief Health Officer, Dr. Eilish Clearly, was dismissed under hazy circumstances ("personnel reasons" ). Many have suggested she was fired as she was investigating the links between glyphosate (the herbicide "RoundUp", used extensively on managed forest plantations) and human health. There are various campaigns to investigate this situation with Dr. Cleary further.

CBC story with links.

New Brunswick Media Co-op story

Back to P.E.I., where (from what I remember of the radio interview) the Chief Public Health Office reviewed studies on pesticides an human health, and concluded that there is no link, no cause to worry; it's lifestyle factors (tobacco and alcohol) that need to be worked on. Those are certainly issues.

However, retired biologist Dr. Roger Gordon comments: "The main report draws the reasonable conclusion that it would be prudent to minimize exposure to pesticides. Then the summary document inexplicably contradicts this by stating that pesticides present no significant health risk. Go figure."

The link to the report, which also inexplicably has no other labeling on the title page except "Pesticides and human health. Part 1: Systematic Review, 2015" (no other identifying information about where it is from that I could find, where and what is Part 2, etc.) is here:

Kitty van der Heijden is the Special Envoy for Sustainability and Development in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Netherlands. She writes about MDGs, which are eight Millennial Development Goals, outlined here:

The entire Global Chorus essay for December 12th is printed below:

"Sustainable development means balancing the economic, social and environmental pillars of development. If you ask an economist to review progress since the Earth summit in 1992, chances are that she or he will boast about tremendous growth, particularly in the Asian tigers and African lions. Ask that same question to a development practitioner, and he or she will highlight the great strides in reducing hunger, child and maternal mortality. But important MDGs, such as gender equality, lag behind, and inequality is rising between countries and within countries. Now ask that question of an environmentalist. Chances are she or he will look at you bewildered. Progress? PROGRESS? Almost all indicators indicate a worsening trend: loss of biodiversity, deforestation, pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, resources scarcity. In statistical jargon they call such curves a 'hockey stick,' with a gradual change at the outset, then fast acceleration upward.

"As humankind, we are in that fast lane now. We are speeding towards a cliff of ecological destruction. That hockey stick will hit us hard – all of us. But it will hit the poor and young most of all. We are the first generation that, rather than sacrificing ourselves for our children’s future, are sacrificing our children’s future for ourselves.

"The upbeat note is that we are not just part of the problem, we are also part of the solution. We can change. Take climate change. We can end global deforestation. We can beat the glum statistic that 30 per cent of food produced is lost or wasted, squandering resources such as water and land, and needlessly producing GHG emissions. We can achieve major emission reductions if consumers worldwide abide by the WHO advice regarding animal protein intake. We could reduce GHG emissions by 10 per cent if we would simply phase out environmentally perverse subsidies on fossil fuels.

"Of course we can do it. It is a matter of choice.

"As CEOs and corporate employees, we decide what and how to produce.

"As consumers, we decide what products to use.

"As shareholders and constituents casting our votes, we decide what policies and politics to refuse.

"We are all in a position to lead change. Take charge." -- Kitty van der Heijden

December 11, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here is an interesting commentary by journalist and all-around thoughtful person Ian Petrie in the current Island Farmer, a bi-weekly publication under the umbrella of Paul MacNeill's Island Press Limited.

The Water Act: Getting It Right - Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Published in Island Farmer on Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

During the leader’s debate on the environment, just before he became premier, Wade MacLauchlan responded over and over to questions that a new water act would be a catch-all for a variety of environmental problems from nitrates and soil erosion, to fracking and irrigation. He promised Islanders would have every opportunity to contribute to its creation. They’ve done that with a vengeance.

Many groups and individuals have made thoughtful and well researched presentations to the Environmental Advisory Council. A few were surprising. The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water could be expected to have a long list of environmental hazards, especially from farming.

Instead the group presented a couple of legal constructs it wants to see built into the new legislation. One is the precautionary principle, or preventing activities where the effects are unknown or in dispute. The second is something newer, “intergenerational equity”. That’s a fancy way of saying that our children and grandchildren should have the same access to fresh, clean water that we enjoy. If that gets legal standing in a new act, it could have a huge impact on a variety of laws and regulations.

I also found the presentation by Cavendish Farms interesting. It made its case again that the lower potato yields on PEI (on average 33 thousand pounds per acre here compared to as high as 63 thousand pounds in the Pacific North West) makes the company uncompetitive in the North American french fry/fast food business. Cavendish tries to present the lack of irrigation as a financial hardship for farmers (costing growers $200-$300 per acre says the presentation), but then the company argues the lower yield “forces” farmers to increase their negotiated price, which is what makes Cavendish uncompetitive. Presumably then with irrigation (a very costly farm expense), farmers should expect lower prices from the company so that Cavendish can stay in business. This is hard to swallow or justify. I’m not questioning the competitiveness dilemma, but Cavendish has had little difficulty getting what it wants during negotiations, the Irvings also make money selling farmers most of their inputs, and the very favourable exchange rate alone must be putting Cavendish well into the black.

Cavendish is on more solid footing when it talks about the impact of the very real drought in 2001, costing the company $22 million to import potatoes from Maine and Manitoba to keep Wendy’s supplied with French fries. Cavendish also shows a good understanding of the difficult politics around this issue, offering alternative solutions with less direct impact on stream flow and aquatic life:

“Understanding the sensitivity and caution around the deep water well topic, a compromise and workable solution could be a combination of some ponds and some spring run off capture and some low capacity wells, with a limitation to the number of wells in a certain geographic or watershed area.”

There is a case to be made that the proper use of irrigation can feed the crop with fertilizer throughout the growing season, limit nitrate run-off, and produce the same crop on fewer acres, but it’s not the only, or even best way, to improve yields. The previous federal government put up $1.4 million for research on making Canada’s french fry makers more competitive in export markets (McCain and other processors across Canada are making the same complaints as Cavendish).

The scientists say the first step is improving the soil quality on beat up potato land. Bernie Zebarth of the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton said in July: “We have short potato rotations, we don’t have a lot of organic matter being added, and this is leading to a decline in soil health. We’ve known about this for a long time, but now it’s at the point where it can no longer be ignored.” The researchers are experimenting with various compost mixes to kick start improving soil health, and in turn increase yields..

This to me is what really matters. Too many growers (not all) lose money on their potato crop, and have substituted corn, soybeans and other row crops in rotations rather than forages, to make ends meet, and their soils have lost the ability to hold moisture, properly breakdown pesticides, or stay on the field when the wind is blowing, and the water is running. Nothing is more important than fixing this.

I’ve argued before that I think it’s totally unreasonable to never allow another farmer, ever, to drill a deep water well on PEI. Irrigation on farms and golf courses uses less than 2% of water now, and weather variability from climate change will be a challenge for all farmers, potato or otherwise. People concerned with the environment shouldn’t hold the government hostage by making the breaking of the moratorium the line in the sand that can’t be crossed. They have every reason (as they have in so many excellent presentations) to take Premier Wade at his word and demand a comprehensive water act that will protect the groundwater resource, and the waterways and life it supports. And yes, make sure that future generations won’t look back and wonder how we could ruin such a precious resource.


Cavendish Farms, by the way, had a "one-on-one" presentation with the Environmental Advisory Council on November 19th; the slide show is about the 12th one down on the list on this page of presentations from the Water Act website.

The audio recording is not on the website for the Cavendish Farms presentation at this point -- that I could find. (All sessions were supposed to be recorded and posted on the website, I recall.)

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi teacher and author of Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth

<snip> "Through simple means we can bring the sacred back into our daily life, and so help to heal the split between spirit and matter and restore the balance in our world.

"Recognizing the Earth as a living, spiritual being with a soul as well as a body, we will find that she can regenerate, come alive in a new way – no longer a resource to be used, but full of wonder and sacred meaning. Listening to her deep wisdom we will find ways to work together that sustain all of life, that care for the soul as well as the soil. This is the future that is waiting for us, full of all the magical possibilities of creation as well as the mystery and joy of the sacred." -- Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Rabbit trails being what they are, trying to define Sufism led to the definition ("Sufism is a Muslim movement whose followers seek to find divine truth and love through direct encounters with God. <snip> Sufis engage in a variety of ritual practices intended to help them realize union with God, such as distinct forms of ritual prayer (dhikr, literally 'remembrance'), including the recitation of God's names, as well as bodily rituals such as those practices by the so-called 'Whirling Dervishes,' a Turkish Sufi order that practices meditation and contemplation of God through spinning.") from the website, which hopes to "engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience the world's beliefs" in a credible and balanced way. From:

December 10, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A reminder today that there is a rally at noon at Province House, and a documentary tonight at 7PM at Holland College, to celebrate Human Rights Day. Details from Facebook events Rally here and Film here.

Blue Dot Movement (Environmental Rights): Toronto, Ontario, was announced yesterday as the 100th Canadian community "to pass a Blue Dot municipal environmental rights declaration — a significant step towards ensuring that every Canadian’s right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat safe food is recognized by all levels of government."

from David Suzuki Foundation's Blue Dot e-mail message, of Blue Dot volunteers in Toronto.

Historian Richard Raiswell wrote and recorded weekly political columns while the P.E.I. Legislature sat for CBC Radio's Mainstreet. Recently, the national broadcaster revamped the local affiliates' websites, so I can find anything anymore, and am not sure what is archived and what isn't. Anyway, in case you didn't hear the first essay, on Refugees, broadcast Monday, November 23rd (I think), I have published the text, with his permission, at the end of today's newsletter.

Paula Kahumbu is a conservationist in Kenya and National Geographic Young Explorer. She manages a organization called Wildlife Direct, an organization "founded in 2005 by Dr Richard Leakey to support African efforts to protect wildlife heritage as an important global heritage." It has blogs about conservation initiatives in Kenya, especially concerning poaching of wildlife such as rhinos and elephants, and lots of news, videos and interviews.

and more about her here:

National Geographic Explorer biography

She writes for today's Global Chorus:

<snip> "I believe it will take extraordinary creativity to achieve understanding amongst consumers and poachers so that people comprehend what is at stake if elephants and rhinos go extinct. Most Africans are poor and yet we are proud people. Our continent is recognized the world over for her diversity in people and wildlife, which are housed in astounding beauty. People say that their lifelong dream is to go on safari to Africa. They experience a connection to the land of the origin of humanity. At the rate things are going, we stand to lose it all. Africa’s wildlife belongs to the world and we Africans are beginning to realize our obligation to humanity to help fulfill this human dream of seeing the herds of the Serengeti, the scarps of the Rift Valley, the snow on the equator.

"We have the capacity to change – we just need. courage to uphold sacred values of fairness, transparency, honesty and accountability. We can do this, and develop our economies by using the tools of this technological age of connectedness." -- Paula Kahumbu

Richard Raiswell's column for the first week of the Legislative Assembly session, reprinted with permission:


The response of the MacLauchlan government to the Federal plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees over the next few months has been clear and unambiguous:

We’re ready. Bring ‘em on.

Good for MacLauchlan.

In the wake of the atrocities in Paris two weeks ago, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall called on the Prime Minister to delay the plan. That would have been a disaster—not just politically at home, but because it would play right into the hands of so-called Islamic State. In its propaganda, in its recruiting videos, I.S. presents us in the west as hypocrites: we talk about being an open and tolerant society, but when it comes to Muslims, those values don’t apply. So the prospect of a Canadian politician promising to help Syrian refugees during an election and then slamming the door on them once elected would’ve been a propaganda victory for them.

Standing his ground, Prime Minister Trudeau now wants to turn his pledge to Syrian refugees into a national project—a challenge to all Canadians to bring our energy and compassion to bear in a great humanitarian effort.


It’s also shrewd politics on his part. For the best part of the last decade, the Harper government asked us only to think about ourselves and our bank balance. In appealing to the very best in Canadians to come together around the appalling tragedy that’s been unfolding in Syria, Trudeau’s hoping to purge any of the lingering nastiness the last government tried to cultivate—and to boost our tarnished international reputation.

How these refugees are welcomed in PEI over the coming months will be crucial—and, for all the goodwill of Islanders, it’s not going to be easy. To make matters worse, the last few years of the Harper government saw the budgets of refugee and resettlement agencies slashed—the same agencies now tasked with helping this mass influx of people adjust to Canadian society.

On PEI, responsibility for resettling refugees falls on the shoulders of Richard Brown, Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning. Working with the PEI Newcomers’ Association and a mix of community groups, Brown’s set up an advisory council that’ll oversee and coordinate the integration of refugees, harnessing and focussing the energies of Islanders.

It’s going to be quite a challenge. The 250 people who’ll be arriving here in the coming months will have next to nothing. They’ll need the basics of life: somewhere to live, clothing, furniture. But they’ll also need language training, access to health care, school places—they’ll need income support, and jobs.

It’s quite likely that many will also need mental health support. These are people who’ve fled from an apocalyptic death cult. Many of them will have lost family members, friends, and will be bearing the psychological scars of appalling violence and savage brutality. They’ve endured horrors that we—in our comparatively cozy corner of the world—can’t even begin to imagine.

While the federal government’s promised new money to offset these costs, simply by virtue of the number of people who’ll be arriving, they’re going to place a strain on the province’s social infrastructure.

And when they do, it’s inevitable that there’ll be a backlash from some quarters. There’ll be accusations that refugees are getting preferential treatment from government. And there’ll be nastier stuff—bigotry and xenophobia. Unthinking people fanning the flames of Islamophobia in just the way that Islamic State propagandists are hoping.

But if the province proceeds in an open and transparent way, and all the Federal money goes where it’s meant to—if Brown and his team are able to help refugees transition into Island society effectively, they’ll be an enormous benefit to this province. These are educated, skilled people who are coming to the Island—many are professionals. Assaulted by the images on the evening news every night, we tend to forget that until the civil war broke out, Syria was a fairly affluent country with a good education system.

What’s more, the people who’ll be arriving here will be younger—people keen to be productive citizens in their new home. People eager for new opportunities, new challenges.

Once they’re settled in, they’ll make Island society richer, more diverse—and more sustainable. And as Minister Brown said in question period on Friday, “Canada is a better country, Prince Edward Island is a better province, because of our diversity.”

Good on the MacLauchlan government for leading the way.

For Mainstreet,

I’m Richard Raiswell

December 9, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tomorrow is United Nations Human Rights Day, and there are a couple of events scheduled you may want to know about to attend:

Human Rights Day Solidarity Rally for Refugees and Muslims, 12noon, Province House, variety of speakers, sponsored by the Council of Canadians.

"Human’s Rights Day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. This year will mark its 67th anniversary. Join us to reflect on the struggles, challenges and victories in Human Rights as well as the lengths that we must still go to achieve equity. An inclusive society is one that benefits us all. Let us work towards equity through action, reflection and understanding. Together, we will stand in solidarity with Muslims, Syrians and refugees from around the world and not only welcome them but honour the fact that they have been in Canada (Turtle Island) for centuries." from:

Facebook event notice

Film: Defensora, 7PM, Holland College, Room 21C (lower level of Kent Street entrance building). "A documentary that looks into the lives of defenders in the resistance who struggle to reclaim their ancestral lands and seek justice in Canadian courts for human rights violations....Defensora is a documentary about a Mayan Q'eqchi' resistance against mining in Guatemala. The story is set along the shores of Lake Izabal in the community of El Estor where a nickel mining company has operated for over 50 years. Tensions run high against a backdrop of pro and anti-mining camps, violence and forced evictions." Sponsored by Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence (BTS), "a voluntary network of people in the Maritimes who began to organize in 1988 to support the efforts of Guatemalans struggling for political, social, and economic justice" and Cinema Politica Charlottetown.

Facebook event notice

The P.E.I. government extends an invitation to Islanders to apply for a spot on any of the boards and agencies. Details and applications are at the website devoted to this, Engage PEI. from:

"Engage PEI offers Islanders an opportunity to serve on a variety of government agencies, boards and commissions." (ABCs -- There are over 70 ABCs which have public members.)

"The various agencies, boards and commissions can be grouped into three functional categories: advisory – provides information that assists in developing public policy and ongoing delivery of programs; operational – provides goods or services to implement government policy and programs; and regulatory – grants licenses, monitors practices to ensure public safety, oversees operations of public and private sector entities.

Although most agencies, boards and commissions are comprised of experts and practitioners in their respective fields, many also include representatives from the general public.

"The interests of Islanders are best served through representation from all regions of the province, as well as including all age groups, cultures, francophone Islanders, First Nations peoples, and a strong balance of men and women."

Thanks to Marilyn Sparling (who also made excellent observations regarding the flaws in logic of the CropLife Canada presentation at Monday night's water act consultation meeting, by the way) for the notice.

Today's Global Chorus is by snowboarder Gretchen Bieller talks about her hopes, and about the Sister Giant movement:

"Now more than ever, there is a feeling we are living in a world that has spun out of balance. It seems the principles of force and effort are dominant in our society on all levels, and because we are all connected, it is this exact model that is not working and that has taken us to this place of global environmental and social crises. I think we are getting close to the point where we as a collective are so disturbed with what we have created that we say 'we won’t take this any longer.' But right now there is already change brewing. And I believe one perfect example of this change is Marianne Williamson’s Sister Giant, which is a movement to start a new conversation, a 'politics of the heart' (link above).

"Movements like Sister Giant are what we need to bring the qualities of masculine and feminine back into alignment in our world. There is always a masculine face and a feminine face to every energy and these two faces depend on one another to thrive. But we’ve been living in a world where the goal-oriented, assertive and individualistic qualities of the masculine have dominated the intuitive, non-differentiating, joining qualities of the feminine. So in order for this world to truly prosper individually and collectively we need our feminine energy to step into its full power again with the masculine.

"Once we as a people have brought balance back into our society through the balance and union of the masculine and feminine, we will naturally find balance with Nature again as well. Instead of fighting against Nature as we have done for so long now, we will start to learn from and work with her. As Deepak Chopra and David Simon have written in their book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, 'Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease. If you look at the ebb and low of the tides, the blossoming of a flower, or the movement of thestars, you do not see Nature straining.' We can echo Nature’s intelligence to live and create a new world of effortless ease, balance and rhythm.

"And that is where it seems we are standing just on the cusp of potential." -- Gretchen Bieller

December 8, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Last night was the last public meeting on the first stage of water act consultations with the Environmental Advisory Council before they start to go over all the submissions and begin to write their report to the Minister and the Department of Communities, Land and Environment. The Council deserves a lot of praise for their dedication to attending these 12 meetings, listening and asking questions. Emcee Jean-Paul Arsenault did a fine job last night, keeping the presenters to their time limits, and zig-zagging around the room like a more sharply dressed Phil Donohue, bringing the microphone to members of the audience, who had (as usual) excellent comments.

Big news is that the timeline is rejiggered a bit:

Minister Robert Mitchell (also working hard on this initiative) announced that the deadline for public submissions to the EAC has been set at January 15th, 2016. The Council will work on a report after that, and it will be made available to the public. The Department and the legislative writing people will work on the first draft, which will go through a public consultation process later in 2016.

SO there is still time to write something.


Two representatives from CropLife Canada (a lobby group for "agri-business inputs") spoke first, saying that when the consultations started they thought that people weren't hearing accurate information about pesticides, so they booked a time to go over how risk is assessed, and how low that risk is for products used commonly on potatoes. It was politely received by the audience, but didn't really hit the mark as far as addressing concerns people have about Island water.

Next were two women speaking on behalf of Fertilizer Canada, which also has its headquarters conveniently in the same (likely very nice) office building (350 Sparks Street) in Ottawa. (It begs the question if the groups have already met with Agriculture Minister and P.E.I. Member of Parliament Lawrence MacAulay.) They explained the "4R" program (regarding trying to reduce fertilizer use by the "Right" product, time, place, amount), and did communicate they know the groundwater/nitrates issues, and hope this will make a difference. With only 13 official demonstration farms and about 180 acres officially in the program across the Island, it's nibbling at the issue.

Darcie Lanthier spoke next, drawing on her background as an environmental engineering technician and her work with various volunteer groups, and discussed water use numbers she has calculated, problems she sees (waste of water, ignoring rain and "grey" water, fighting nature pretty much every step of the way) and proposed what she would like to see in the water act. Good slides to see when the Department of Environment gets them on their water act website presentation page.

And finally was organic farmer (and former labour union activist) Sandy MacKay, who has submitted a three page summary which should also be on the website at some point. He has wonderful observations to share, mentioning his practices (how he has improved organic matter over s few years by cover crop "green manures" and other techniques), his point that we should figure out and incorporate how indigenous people treat the land and water, and his thoughts on the future act. One would like to see him and Darcie on the other side of the table really helping with the report that the EAC will write.

The Council talked of balancing industry and environmental concerns. It's always talked as if it's an equal balance, which actually needs to be re-examined, and recalculated.

How timely: Mark Z. Jacobson is professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy program at Stanford University in California. He wrote this a couple of years ago for Global Chorus, and it is just serendipitous that it's placed on December 8th, during these COP21 (2015 Conference of Parties -- 21st Session) talks. He writes:

"We believe it is technically and economically feasible to transform the world’s all-purpose energy infrastructure (for electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, industry) into one powered by wind, water and sunlight (WWS) within 20–40 years.

"The primary limitations are social and political, not technical or economic.

"The limitations can be overcome by education of the public and policy-makers and demonstration of the health, climate and reliability benefits of clean energy technologies.

"Ongoing efforts on large-scale conversion plans are discussed at" --Mark Z. Jacobson

December 7, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight is the last water act public consultation, scheduled for 7PM at the Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown. It would be great to have people attend and ask questions or make comments (the mike is open to the public after the presentations). Hopefully, the two industry representatives (CropLife and Fertilizer Canada) will be required to keep to their time limits, along with the individuals speaking third and fourth (Darcie Lanthier and Sandy MacKay), so things will be on time and some people won't have to leave before it's over. The times are supposed to be a 20 minute presentation, followed by ten minutes for questions, but some organizations have overextended that. All welcome. You can always send a comment to the Environmental Advisory Council at


Having been without power for about two days, but making do, we were still very happy to see the flashing lights of the company truck Saturday night. I appreciate how diligent , skilled and good-natured the repair line workers are.

Our grid system is vulnerable to our normal winter weather. (Remember that storms and the subsequent repairs raise the GDP ;-) I am no expert, but here are some things to think about: more diversification, more renewables, more ability to sell power back to the company, more small scale projects -- let's hope the P.E.I. Energy Commission will think about these things, and Islanders can bring these things up when they have public consultations in 2016.

Martha "Pati" Ruiz Corzo write for today's Global Chorus, and she founded Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda

"For 28 years, this grassroots movement has been a constant presence in communities, achieving the presidential decree of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in 1997, the most bio-diverse federally natural protected area in Mexico."


She writes:

"We have postponed addressing the planet’s emergencies beyond the limits of its forces; this emergency demands a wave of action. Society must walk in the direction of being more self-sufficient and frugal, and above all, turn its eyes to Nature and our close relationship with Her.

"We must embrace the values of service and the common good, where generosity and love are the drivers. And since all that glitters is not gold, it would be best to leave this life having provided service and creativity rather than any debt generated by ambition and the destructive control of our system and the marketing of life on Earth.

"The re-evolution towards a society in kinship with the biosphere means to embrace the simple life, accept the challenge to see who can live with the least and be healthier, not compete, cause minimum impact, dedicate our personal gifts to work and commit our emotion to the beauty and wisdom of creation.

"So, cheers to the humans who recognize the Earth as their Mother and who relearn the purpose of having life and the capacity to act and construct futures with hope." -- "Pati" Ruiz Corzo

December 6, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There are two local vendors' markets today (of many, I am sure):

Artisans Market, 10AM-3PM, Charlottetown Farmers' Market, Belvedere Avenure. Facebook details here.

Victorian Christmas Market, 12-5PM, Victoria Row, Charlottetown. Facebook event details here.

You may have heard about The Leap Manifesto -- this is an initiative mentioned in the documentary This Changes Everything.

From their website:

Canada is not this place today— but it could be.

We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher wage jobs with fewer work hours, leaving us ample time to enjoy our loved ones and flourish in our communities. from The Leap Manifesto home page

The Frequently Asked Questions are informative and entertaining, including:

  1. Did you name it after Mao’s Great Leap Forward? Are you nuts?

No, and we hope not. We chose the title because it expresses the need for rapid transformative change — rather than small steps forward combined, all too often, with large steps backwards. We also chose it because 2016 is a Leap Year, that time when we add an extra day to the calendar in order to bring our inadequate human measuring methods into sync with the earth’s rotation around the sun.

With our economic and political systems colliding with planetary limits, we think Leap Year makes a great metaphor for the kinds of accommodation to the earth’s physics and chemistry that we all need to make, not just on February 29 every four years, but every day, for generations into the future. It’s time to bring ourselves into balance with our home. It’s time to leap!


The Citizens' Alliance board decided for the Citizens' Alliance to join The Leap Manifesto as an organization, and encourages you to poke around the website and see if you would like to add your name as an individual supporter.

Fitness and yoga instructor Kristin MacGee writes for today's Global Chorus essay:

<snip>"I believe in our ability to adapt and to create solutions to our problems. I think more and more people are coming together in a communal way through yoga and other forms of movement, creativity and expression, through meditation, arts, music, theatre and healthy food. I believe the more we come together and find communities in our neighbourhoods, cities, states and countries, we can affect change and grow towards a more positive environment and way of living.

<snip> "I have always seen the glass as not only half full, but overlowing with potential and ininite opportunities. I don't even think we are in a crisis, just in a place where we need to discover what isn't working for US (all of us, from the birds to the bees to the trees!) so that we can move towards something that will sustain us in a healthier, more positive way.

"YES, we can do it!" -- Kristin McGee

December 5, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

We are still without power in my beautiful (and wooded) part of the Island, so please excuse the brevity.

from Bradley Walters, who keeps tabs on media regarding energy and environment, and passes on interesting stories and commentaries. This one is by him, published in the New Brunswick Times and Telegraph on Thursday, December 3rd, 2015.

Unity means action on climate change - New Brunswick Times and Telegraph Commentary by Bradley Walters

Under the Harper Conservatives, Canada distinguished itself as a global laggard in the fight against climate change. We consistently ranked bottom among OECD countries in terms of progress. On some counts Canada astoundingly shared the basement with the likes of Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. But on the climate file, recent federal and provincial elections seem to have made a big difference.

After years of denial and stonewalling, indications are that Canada is poised to assume a constructive, possibly even leadership role in the global fight against climate change.

There is a genuine sense of optimism that Paris will deliver a real breakthrough. For the first time, the world’s largest greenhouse gas-emitting countries are all on-board and seemingly ready to commit to action. In particular, U.S. President Barack Obama has championed this issue during his second term and devoted considerable effort building support from China and India. Country plans submitted in advance of Paris now cover 90 per cent of global emissions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far embraced his new role on the world stage with moral clarity and personal confidence. He has been in office too short a time to deliver many concrete promises in Paris. But he has already used the immense media attention bestowed upon him as a new world leader to vigorously advocate for a strong international climate agreement. Canada is not among the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluters by total, but our emissions per capita are among the highest in the world and our diplomatic influence is sizable. World leaders are lauding Canada’s dramatic change in course on this vital issue.

But, the road to Paris goes in both directions, and ultimately what matters most is how commitments made there are translated into effective policy back home.

In this regard, Canadians have genuine reason for optimism. The appointment of Stephan Dion to lead Foreign Affairs and chair the Cabinet Committee on Environment, Climate Change and Energy suggests the Prime Minister is serious about this issue. Mr. Dion is an experienced policy wonk and has long been one of Parliament’s leading champions for action on climate change. And the conditions in Canada couldn’t be better for decisive action.

For one, large majorities of the general public back the Prime Minister. Opinion polls show broad support for stronger action on climate change and the new Trudeau government currently benefits from a post-election surge in public enthusiasm.

Second, the price of oil has fallen considerably and remains low, an economic trend that has weakened the political clout of the oil and gas industry who have in the past lobbied against strong regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Equally important, cheaper oil and gas enables government to put a price on carbon without it biting too hard into the pocketbooks of Canadians.

Third, the federal government no longer faces sizable push-back from the provinces on climate policy, thanks mostly to the stunning election earlier this year of Rachel Notley’s NDP in Alberta.

Until now, political leadership on climate change and renewable energy has come almost entirely from the provinces. This includes B.C.’s ground-breaking carbon tax, Ontario’s total phase-out of coal fire generation, and policies advancing renewable energy development in Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Quebec and Ontario. As well, Ontario’s recent move into cap and trade (with Quebec and California) should place the majority of the nation’s large manufacturing and industry operations under a carbon pricing scheme. Most significant in political terms is Alberta’s game-changing shift from chief provincial obstructionist to climate action leader. Premier Notley’s recently proposed plan will institute an economy-wide carbon tax (similar to B.C.), phase-out coal-fired generation by 2030, ramp-up investment in renew-ables, and establish a total cap on tar sands’ emissions.

With the policy heavy-lifting now under way at the provincial level across Canada, Trudeau has an unprecedented window of opportunity to finally cement the federal government’s role as a climate change leader in Canada and on the world stage.

Canada’s post-election response to the Syrian refugee crisis has re-instilled a sense of moral leadership and political confidence that has been lacking for years in this country. Climate change is a much larger challenge, but Canadians are long-past their denial and are ready to deal with it. Here’s hoping the new Trudeau government seizes this historic opportunity in Paris and back home.

Brad Walters is a Professor of Geography & Environment and Coordinator of Environmental Studies at Mount Allison University in Sackville.

Matthew Wilburn King is a social entrepreneur and philanthropist, and founder of the Living GREEN Foundation ( He writes for today's Global Chorus:

<snip> "Although evolutionary theory shows that we care most about our genetic relatives, culturally we have embodied and acted upon concerns that extend beyond family to others and to times beyond our own lifespans. Governments have traditionally performed this role, but they have not been effective. Fortunately, we are now seeing the emergence of a kind of governance that departs from the centralized, top-down structures we have so far relied upon to solve problems. Networked systems of governance are a shift toward a more self-organizing approach that brings together dispersed individuals from the state, civil society and private sectors that have a shared interest. Each acts independently yet remains connected through exchanging information, planning for future events and co-operating as is useful."<snip> -- Matthew Wilburn King

December 4, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Climate Change talks in Paris seem quite complicated for what should be a simple message -- we must act now. It sounds like the slogan "One-point-five to stay alive" is popular, as apparently a two degree rise in global temperature would cause a lot of feedback mechanisms to increase damage,; so the idea would be to keep it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

One person who is sending basically small newscasts of her day is federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who comments (along with Claire Martin, who ran unsuccessfully for MP in B.C.) on what they have been doing that day.

The final public consultation meeting for the first phase of the water act is Monday, December 7th, at the Farm Centre; public comments can be submitted through the department's on-line form found here

and comments already submitted are here.

Here is a thoughtful piece, looking at the big picture from a different way, adapted from their submission to the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal:

Are political parties the best way on P.E.I.? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Gerry Hopkirk and David Weale

Published on Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Regarding “Democratic Renewal” in Prince Edward Island, Vision P.E.I. applauds the extended time frame, the broadening of options and the additional consultation for the next phase. However there was one option offered that seems to have been omitted. Should we not also consider the suggestion that governance for this small place should move beyond party politics?

Yes, as a province we could still participate, with record voter turnout, in the federal party system. But for our own governance do we need this partisan party structure, with its patronage at every level of Island society? Do we need this us-versus-them approach to pave our roads, educate our children, and find our unique way in the world of economics, agriculture, and environmental integrity? Are political parties the best way to govern this province? Some of us think not.

There are many, many places across this country and around the world that are larger than Prince Edward Island, in both area and population, which govern themselves effectively without partisan political parties and cumbersome government structures while giving citizens a true voice. That could be us.

We are, after all, a small pastoral island, 120 miles long and 20 miles wide with 145,000 human inhabitants: small enough to adapt nimbly and creatively in a manner that would be impossible in larger jurisdictions; small enough to ponder a radical alternative to our current electoral process; and small enough to take the lead in reforming the political structures that have outlived their effectiveness.

How might it look? Check this out:

“The Legislative Assembly of Nunavut is a public government and operates on the consensus model. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) belong to no political party and voting isn’t based on party politics. The people of Nunavut elect each of their MLAs as an independent representative.

The MLAs vote for and form the government from among themselves.

“Soon after each general election the MLAs elect one of their Members to be Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and another to be Premier of Nunavut. They also elect from among themselves the Members of Cabinet that form the government. The Cabinet is a minority in the Legislature, so the majority of MLAs must agree upon and approve any legislative decision.” (Wikipedia)

If this type of approach were implemented in P.E.I., MLAs could be chosen using a preferential ballot to ensure that every member would have approval by a majority of voters in each district.

We are aware that this Island is steeped in the party tradition. It is true, nonetheless, that there are many Islanders, including many of our youth, who recognize the need for radical change. We also believe that any process into electoral reform that does not examine the issue of political parties is incomplete. For this reason we respectfully submit that this option should be on the “Democratic Renewal” agenda.

The complete Vision P.E.I. submission to the democratic renewal process is available at

Gerry Hopkirk and David Weale are members of Vision P.E.I., a non-partisan group committed to promoting creative public discourse about what is possible.

An excerpt from Global Chorus for today by "artivist" Allana Beltran:

"All crises, personal and global, lead to change. The current crises have arisen in culmination of past attempts to avoid our humanity by escaping into materialism. Hope for our future requires a shift in human consciousness." <snip> -- Allana Beltran

December 3, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature closed yesterday afternoon, about 4:30PM. One could tell something had shifted and Government was ready to pack it up for the year as the afternoon progressed, and all the pieces of legislation (many "housekeeping" bills) were approved for third reading in a flurry. The Lieutenant Governor arrived and gave royal assent, and all was cordially ended. The Sitting was not as robust as the Premier indicated at the beginning, but the Report of the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal was an achievement, and there was quite a lot of discussion about changes to the School Act, and about more transparency for loan write-offs (which was "left on the order papers" until the Spring Sitting, which will start in April). More closing comments tomorrow.

The Water Act meeting in Cornwall last night was interesting, but perhaps a little slow. It doesn't help that most people outside of Cornwall are not sure which building is the Civic Centre -- it's not the APM Centre, nor the old Ferry Road building -- and even the Environmental Advisory Council chair wasn't sure. The curling rink is also in the building and sliding and shouting noises filtered in one side of the room. A couple of the presenters last night went beyond their allotted time and had a lot of text on their slides, but it was all good information. The Potato Board and Shellfish Association both gave background information on their organizations, and the relatedness of their industries (certainly the effect the agriculture industry can have on the shellfish industry) was clear to see. The Minister, Deputy Minister and other folks from the Department of Environment were there and all doing their jobs.

The final meeting is Monday, December 7th, 7PM, at the Farm Centre. in Charlottetown. People should make an effort to get to this last one, if they can.

Tonight is the "Step Up to the Plate" Food Exchange dinner, details here

People have been cooking and cooking for this fundraiser -- should be a great time.

Mae Moore, the Canadian musician, artist, organic farmer, activist, writes for today's Global Chorus:

<snip>"We will not know if we can turn around the destructive path we are on until the time arrives when we have accomplished it.

"To get there, we must protect the last remaining wild places on Earth from resource extraction and we must live by a new model that values health and happiness over economic profit. Each and every person in the First World must recognize with gratitude (and not a sense of entitlement) that her/his lifestyle comes at a coast to the environment to the Third World and to the planet, and must take steps to shift this. We need to move away from being rabid consumers and realize that there is nothing more important than clean water, clean air and fertile soil.

"Our population is too large to be supported by our planet. We have disrupted entire ecosystems under the guise of progress. We cannot keep doing this. People are awakening to one climate crisis after another. Our time is running out to effect change. Do I have hope? I answer that question with no, I do not have hope, as hope is too passive an election. I will, however, live my life with the lightest footprint possible and I will work toward actively redirecting our collision course, through education, through public governmental lobbying against fossil fuel, through growing food organically for my family and community and through protecting our environment for other species at risk – through civil disobedience if called for."— Mae Moore

December 2, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Events coming up:

Tonight is the second-to-last, the penultimate, water act public consultation, 7-9:30PM, Cornwall Civic Centre (the building with the curling rink and Lions' Club) on Cornwall Road.

Speakers will be from the Cornwall and Area Watershed Group, The PEI Potato Board, the PEI Shellfishers Association, and the Ellen's Creek Watershed Association.

The last water act public meeting is Monday, December 7th at the Farm Centre.


The annual "Step up to the Plate" Fundraising dinner is tomorrow, Thursday, December 3rd, at the Farm Centre. All proceeds go to the PEI Food Exchange. Details here.

A long story about the slow but satisfying process of consensus: Last night was Opposition Evening in the P.E.I. Legislature (Opposition Evening has a real, more formal name), a chance for the Opposition and other non-Government to go over its motions and other business. Thursday afternoon, after Question Period, also has some Opposition time. While it brings up very good issues, sometimes in the past it has been a time for very long discourses from any MLA on particular aspects of motions (or seeming unrelated to anything).

Or, it can become an annoying exercise in political one-upmanship. The usual play-by-play, as I have watched: the Opposition has a motion that points out some flaw which can be remedied, but has a bit of rhetorical, mildly jabbing, language in it. They speak to it, government members speak to it but say that can't support it; then somebody in government goes , "Hey, lookie here!" or the equivalent, and pulls out an Amendment to the Motion, which totally guts the original intent. It's spoken to, some Opposition members express dismay, then a vote is called, and the majority government wins. But first the Speaker has to figure out the amendment to the motion and get all the terms right. Opposition is chagrined at being out-maneuvered.

But last night, a wonderful thing happened. In a rather ordinary but symbolic issue of parking fees at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Motion No. 66, the Legislative Assembly will "urge government" to extend the time period for free parking. During debate, Health Minister figuratively pulled an amendment out of his back pocket to urge government to consider lowering rates, which would totally water it down. Opposition members were understandably vexed, especially Steven Myers and James Aylward, who described the "usual" pattern of motions -- really good ones that were trying to bring about change -- being trampled down during the previous (Robert Ghiz) years; and it looked like that is what was going to happen to this one.

That's when the unassuming Matt MacKay (District 20 Kensington-Malpeque) spoke up after being silent for a while, and carefully got his idea out -- why not use the Tories' original motion wording, but change the date to February 2016, so the government has time to get a plan in place. Everyone blinked and pondered and said, Why not? and after the intricate backwards dance of voting on amendments to amendments to motions was completed -- Speaker Buck Watts doing very well at this -- the original motion with the new date passed unanimously. It was very nice to see such collaboration.

Stephen M. Gardiner is a professor of philosophy at human dimensions in the environment at the University of Washington, and author of A Perfect Moral Storm: the Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change. More about him here:

He writes for the December 2nd Global Chorus:

<snip> "The perfect moral storm is a severe challenge, and so far we are not doing very well. Yet succumbing to the storm is not inevitable The dominant institutions of the age -- markets and standard election cycles – may be good at highlighting short-term,narrowly economic motivations and bad at capturing concerns for distant people, future generations and Nature. Still, this does not mean that we do not have such concerns, or that they cannot be made operative in policy. In my view, we do and we can. Confronting the storm will require extraordinary courage, imagination, creativity and fortitude. It will take a great generation to try, and an even greater one to succeed. Yet we can be that generation.

"We must." -- Stephen Gardiner

December 1, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature resumes their week today: Tuesday and Thursday, 2-5PM and 7-9PM, and Wednesday 2-5PM, and Friday 10AM-1PM. You can go watch in person in the Gallery, or you can watch it online here

The Legislative Assembly website has an incredible amount of information (home website here).

And you can keep up with what is actually going on in the Legislature by following their tweeting, either on their website or at their Twitter page.

Someone suggested that Premier Maclauchlan should be blogging on his trip to Paris for Climate Change talks, just to keep the interested folks back home up-to-date. Or tweeting. Adam Fenech from UPEI is going to be on CBC Radio from Paris this morning, and there is good coverage here from that other Guardian (the one that is saying "Keep it in the Ground.")

Yasmin Rasyid, of the Malaysian environmental organization Ecokinghts, writes for today's Global Chorus:

<snip> "Many of us have hope, but that’s not enough. Hope needs to be translated into real, tangible changing ourselves for the better – be it in the way we live sustainably or the way we utilize resources. Sitting around and hoping doesn’t do justice to the environment; we need to rise to the occasion, even if it’s something small like working with your neighbours to solve trash issues, or educating children about sustainable living in schools, or even starting with changing the way you manage your home. I believe if we can all collectively pick one thing we can change for the better today, we can make more visible differences to the planet.

"Every day, the human race hopes for something." -- Yasmin Rasyid