February 28, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Discussion: Women in Politics, 6-8PM, UPEI Campus (W.A. Murphy Student Centre), free.
The UPEI Political Science Society is pleased to present an event bringing together different Island women involved in various forms of politics and government for an evening of informal discussion and celebration of female leadership. Leaders of various Island organizations will provide some short presentations about their work and the status of women in Island politics closer to the beginning of the evening, after which there will be an opportunity for attendees to mingle and enjoy some finger food. Students and professors from the Political Science program at UPEI will be in attendance to toast the future of women in politics and to help connect the younger generation with leaders in their field.
Electoral Boundaries public meeting, 6:30PM, Kensington (Queen Elizabeth Elementary School).
Kevin J. Arsenault connects the dots. A reading of this would make an excellent voice-over for a white-board illustration of these relationships:
GUEST OPINION: Ex-Liberal premiers have political and wireless connections - The Guardian Opinion piece by Kevin J. Arsenault
Published on Monday, February 27th, 2017
Premier MacLauchlan missed a golden opportunity to honour his promise to be transparent when he refused to release the Robert Ghiz contract with Bell Aliant.
It should not have taken an order from the privacy commissioner for Islanders to learn the deal cost $23.3 million, not $8.2 million as initially disclosed.
The Premier could reclaim some integrity by initiating a full-scale investigation into the e-gaming fiasco, and he definitely should, now that we know Robert Ghiz ordered the destruction of protected records. But that’s not likely to happen given his close association with Ghiz.
The interlocking connections between high-profile Maritime politicians is enough to make your head spin. As David Weale recently posted on Vision P.E.I.’s Facebook page: “Disgraced Premier Ghiz is now CEO of Wireless Canada, a position previously held by former PC Premier of New Brunswick, Bernard Lord. Lord is now the President of Medavie Blue Cross, and guess who was recently appointed to the Board. That's correct, Mr. Ghiz. And further, can you perhaps guess who was also a director before Ghiz’s appointment? Wade MacLauchlan.”
Just to be clear, “Wireless Canada” is the Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association (CWTA) representing the interests of Internet corporations like Bell Aliant.
There’s more. Shawn Graham replaced Bernard Lord as Liberal premier of New Brunswick in 2006, after Lord became president and CEO of the CWTA. Graham gave $13 million to wireless giant Xplornet around the same time as Ghiz secretly amended his contract with Bell. Xplornet is wholly-owned by Barrett Corporation, and, surprisingly, co-owner Ed Barrett is also a director of Medavie Blue Cross with Ghiz.
However, like Ghiz, it wasn't his rural internet deal with Xplornet that got Shawn Graham into trouble. That happened when he gave $50 million in loans to Atcon (a Miramichi-based company) against the advice of his own staff. Alan Graham, Shawn's father and former N.B. Liberal cabinet minister, was a director of Vänerply, a subsidiary of Atcon. Atcon went bankrupt, and very little of the $50 million was recovered. Graham was found guilty of violating conflict-of-interest guidelines; was issued a slap-on-the-wrist fine of $3,500; and stepped down as premier.
It's certainly curious that two Maritime Liberal premiers - Graham and Ghiz - both signed exclusive multi-million dollar deals with large wireless corporations and then resigned before finishing their terms, after wasting millions in scandalous corporate dealings reeking of cronyism and riddled with conflicts-of-interest. But are there any direct connections between these two brash young ex-premiers?
There are three individuals from N.B. on the board of directors of Ducks Unlimited Canada, one being Shawn Graham. There's just one director from P.E.I., so what would be the chances of…uh....yep, you guessed it, that person is Robert Ghiz.
Can we draw any insightful conclusions from this bizarre coincidence? Or is it merely a canard (French pun intended)?
What comes to mind is the age-old adage: “Birds of a feather flock together.” Might this fowl instinct explain why ex-Maritime Liberal premiers are so attracted to Ducks Unlimited and each other? I'm sure they share fascinating stories over drinks following national board meetings. And senior N.B. Bell Mobility account executive Mike Jackson is likely buying . . . he's currently the fund-raising co-ordinator for Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Kevin J. Arsenault obtained his PhD in Ethics from McGill University and lives in Ft. Augustus.
Stuart Pimm is the Doris Duke Chair of Conservation in the Nicholas School at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and is president of SavingSpecies.org His February 28th Global Chorus essay is below.
About SavingSpecies from:
SavingSpecies is a unique conservation organization, because of the way that we use science to drive our conservation decisions. We maximize our efforts by restoring forest connectivity, increasing species’ chances for survival and thriving. This focus keeps down costs while being extraordinarily effective for many species across the globe.
There are five steps in our strategy:
We use GIS and species mapping technology to identify the hottest of biodiversity hotspots.
We search specifically for areas where we can reconnect forest fragments, creating wildlife corridors to increase habitat for the most rare and endangered species.
We collaborate with local organizations that know the country well and are able to negotiate land sales on our behalf.
We raise money from donors and grants to fund the land sales on behalf of the in-country organizations and to provide restoration measures.
We provide technical assistance and monitoring to measure how quickly the forest is recovering and to assure our donors that their funds are helping to save species–which can even be seen on Google Earth.
So much of what we hear about the environment is bad news. I contribute some of the worst of it – it’s my science that has documented that we are driving species to extinction 100 to 1,000 times faster than is natural. Extinction is irreversible. At least in theory, we can cool the planet to its normal temperature, restock the oceans’ depleted fish and so on. We cannot create a Jurassic Park or even resurrect recent extinctions. I feel a keen sense of loss over the species I have seen but which are now extinct. No more, I promise myself.
To fulfill that, I must use whatever skills it takes to protect what we have left. Science is one such skill, but it requires so much more. And I must inject my science into the public debate, especially now when the media spews so much disinformation.
Something else: the world’s tropical, moist forests are where most of the wild things live. They house the most species and the greatest number of species at risk of extinction. They’ve lost area almost as large as the continental USA in my lifetime. Meanwhile, we’ve put billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing untold economic harm. We should stop doing so, for forests are worth more standing than as the barren grazing land so many of them have become. There’s more! It’s time to restore these lands, allow them to recover, plant them with native trees, heal the planet and save species.
— Stuart Pimm
February 27, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A lot going on this week:
Film screening and discussion: This Changes Everything, 4:30PM, UPEI, Main Building, Dawson Lounge (Room 520), free. Sponsored by the Revolutionary Student Movement, Students Protecting Animals, and the UPEI Environmental Society.
The film is about 90minutes long and then there will be a discussion. Snacks provided.
About the film: "Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change.
Directed by Avi Lewis, and inspired by Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller This Changes Everything, the film presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.
Interwoven with these stories of struggle is Klein’s narration, connecting the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there. Throughout the film, Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better."
More event details here: https://www.evensi.ca/this-changes-everything-film-screening-dawson-lounge/199421420
A little later today:
February Vegan Potluck, 6:30PM, Trinity United Church, corner of Richmond and Prince Streets. Please refer to the Facebook event details
to RSVP if you are interested in going.
I have also been asked to pass on a petition on tightening regulations on trapping on public and private land, being prepared to be presented to the Legislative Assembly, possibly this spring but more likely this Fall. It is a "actually-sign-and-mail-in" petition, and can be found to download and print, on the Islanders Protecting Animals Facebook page.
Some other events:
LAST public school review meeting (rescheduled due to storms):
Morell Family of Schools, 7PM, Morell Regional High School. School Review website.
Wednesday, March 1st,
"Going Green", topic of the Canadian Home Builders Association Dinner meeting, at their meeting and dinner. Tickets for the meal and presentation are $35 and interested people can R.S.V.P. at firstname.lastname@example.org by today, February 27th.
There are two electoral boundaries public meetings this week, in
Tuesday, February 28th, 6:30-8:30PM, Kensington (Queen Elizabeth Elementary)
Thursday, March 2nd, 6:30-8:30PM,
Electoral Boundaries Meeting, Charlottetown (Holland College Lecture Theatre)
Laura Elizabeth Clayton Paul is an engineer who lives in Ottawa. She writes the February 27th Global Chorus essay.
Should you need to be reminded that anything is possible and that this wonderful big world can be saved, you need nothing more than air in your lungs and a heart that is open.
Take yourself outside, watch the sun peek tentatively over the horizon. Light spilling, slowly at first, dripping, splattering, blazing, engulfing the dark night sky, a sky that questioned whether it would ever see light again. Close your eyes, feel its warmth, embrace the awe. This brilliance cannot be rivalled.
The solutions are already here, presented delicately by the Earth and her natural systems. Should we take the time to listen, we will find the cures whispered to us in her ever-hopeful song.
Buildings that give back: purifying their own water, generating power through energy freely given by the sun, creating thriving new ecosystems rather than destroying them. Transportation that uses our own strength and breath, allowing us to fully appreciate these bodies we are blessed with. Food that is not only nutritious but compassionate, that doesn’t take life but, rather, gives it.
Change will accelerate as we widen our circle of compassion, noticing that the Earth’s scorching crust is intricately linked to our wrinkling skin, and within the saddening eyes of her creatures we find our own. There is a global crisis, but equally a mountain of opportunity. Nothing is impossible.
There is always hope. We are the solution. It’s time to show up ready to work, and push forward one seemingly small change at a time.
— Laura Elizabeth Clayton Paul
February 26, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
In addition to the afternoon Bonshaw Ceilidh and the PEI Brass Choir's first concert, if you are in the Georgetown, consider attending the screening of the movie "Migrant Dreams" at the Kings Playhouse.
Sunday, 2:30PM, Kings Playhouse, admission by donation. Sounds like there will be a supper afterward. Facebook details here.
A powerful feature documentary by multiple award-winning director Min Sook Lee (El Contrato, Hogtown, Tiger Spirit) and Emmy award-winning producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson (Herman’s House), tells the undertold story of migrant agricultural workers struggling against Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that treats foreign workers as modern-day indentured labourers. Under the rules of Canada’s migrant labour program, low wage migrants are tied to one employer. <<snip>>
Regarding Climate Change and Renewable Energy, from Friday's Guardian (end-quotes to first paragraph added by me):
MATTHEW MCCARVILLE: Emissions-free by 2050 - The Guardian Opinion piece by Matthew McCarville
Goal of 80 per cent reductions by 2030, P.E.I.’s energy and climate mitigation strategy
Published on Friday, February 24th, 2017
About a year ago, I was invited to testify before the Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.’s Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy. On May 10, 2016, our Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy provided its first recommendation to Legislature:
“1. Your committee recommends that P.E.I.’s new energy strategy include an overarching goal of transitioning to 100 per cent use of renewable wind, solar, and water power for all purposes by 2050 at the latest."
Researchers at universities such as Stanford and the University of California have produced roadmaps to demonstrate how the 50 U.S. states and over 100 countries, including Canada, can transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by the middle of the century. This includes energy for all purposes; once 100 per cent renewable energy is achieved for electrical generation, it will become easier to meet the same goal in transportation, heating/cooling, industry, agriculture and natural resource use. It is a scientifically attainable goal. The challenges are not so much technological or economic as they are political and social.
Testimony by multiple witnesses before your committee demonstrated that renewable energy technologies are rapidly overcoming barriers to use and integration. Broad conversion to renewable energy will have a net economic benefit in terms of job creation and growth. Instead, the challenging part of reaching such a goal lies in committing politically and socially to an aggressive course of action to move our energy production away from combustion and toward wind, solar and water across the board.
Here on P.E.I. we have made a good start with on-shore wind energy. It is time to ramp up exploration of our other renewable options, such as greater solar infrastructure, off-shore wind energy, and tidal energy. We also need to transition to a smarter electrical grid system in which renewable energy generation occurs in a distributed network across the Island. The expertise exists on PEI to make this happen, both in the private sector and at our post-secondary institutions.
The City of Summerside provides an excellent example of a government and utility working together to increase renewable energy integration in multiple areas of energy consumption. A new energy strategy is in development for the province and there is no reason not to commit to the ambitious but necessary goal of 100 per cent renewable energy. Your committee calls on government, Maritime Electric and all Islanders to make that commitment.
We could get started and accelerate the transition with 100 per cent by 2050 legislation this spring, that enables not just half measures but rather a substantial conversion by 2030. The best science shows us the world in fact requires – 80 per cent conversion in all energy sectors, and such emission reductions by 2030; with 100 per cent by 2050, to have any reasonable chance of avoiding 1.5˚C of global warming relative to 1870; a goal the whole world of nations has recognized is needed in the COP 21 Paris Agreement, has been ratified, and has come into force as of October, 2016.
As Islanders, many of us are ready for 100 per cent clean energy. Some have already electrified their entire homes and vehicles, etc., and are ≥100% solar powered; giving free power away to their neighbors and it’s still saving them money. I could provide names of well over 100 Islanders, probably well over 1,000, whom I have spoken with personally in recent years who are definitely ready for 100 per cent clean renewable energy for all. 25,000 Canadians recently marched and rallied on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for this goal of 100 per cent by 2050. Thousands more joined them across the nation including well over 100 people on P.E.I., plus over 45,000 Canadians have signed onto a call for this. Luckily, political will is a renewable resource and we can proceed as necessary, since it’s the only moral choice we have, with the practical implementation of such a roadmap.
It’s already 1.2˚C warmer than the 1901-1930 average global temperature, solely human-caused, as proven in the comparison of the GATOR-GCMOM model to NASA GISS data included in this article.
For the love of humankind, let’s protect our land.
- Matthew McCarville is founder of McCarville Research. In January 2013, he and 50 Islanders co-founded a group called, “Don’t Frack P.E.I.: Wind Water Sun – Energy For the Long-Run.” He helps administer a Facebook group with 330 members, “Renewable Energy P.E.I.,” working collectively to share stories and solutions that accelerate the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy on P.E.I. www.dontfrackpei.com ; www.100.org.
Standing Rock (Dakota Access pipeline) update -- from Friday's National Observer -- link below). In the face of the new U.S. president's executive orders, and overwhelming police and military force, the protectors broke camp; it was undoubtedly a safer decision, but one can imagine how very heartbreaking. Some information from this National Observer article
Bill McKibbon, of 350.org, continually educating about climate change, writes about Canada's recent decisions and the message that it sends, in another National Observer article:
Jules Pretty is a Professor of Environment and Society at University of Essex (UK), and the author of The Edge of Extinction, This Luminous Coast, and The Earth Only Endures. He writes the February 26th Global Chorus essay.
The iron cage of arithmetic is compelling: per capita consumption of natural capital rises, as does the total number of consuming people. Yet we know indefinite growth is impossible in a finite world.
At low levels of consumption, it is clear that a large proportion of the world’s population needs to consume more – in order to meet basic needs for food, water, housing and health. But the average global citizen is consuming too much. If those without are to have more, then by definition those with too much must consume less. This is not widely accepted.
There are four options for divergence from current paths:
major disruptive and technological innovation followed by widespread adoption;
making possessions, places and environments meaningful and valued, and thus longer lasting;
fixing pro-environmental and low-carbon behaviours into societies by cultural moulding; and
a penetrating policy focus on the links between consumption and human well-being, and increases in investments in the green economy.
In such a green economy, other forms of consumption will be valued, such as of storytelling, walking and engaging with Nature. It will be co-operative, as it enhances social capital formation and reduces inequity: prosocial behaviours cause others to be prosocial. It will offer four options to citizens: resist consumerism by opting out (e.g., downshifting, voluntary simplicity), retain possessions for longer (before replacement), make different choices (ethical or green consumerism) and substitute non-material consumption activities (e.g., nature consumption). It will encourage spiritual consolation as a substitute for materialism.
A shift to a green economy is inevitable. It is simply a question of whether it occurs before or after the world becomes locked into severe climate change and other harm to Nature. On the assumption that before is preferable, then we need commitments by affluent countries to reduce their material consumption by a factor of ten; and commitments by all countries to invest in displacement technologies that improve natural capital whilst providing the necessary services to improve human well-being.
— Jules Pretty
Time to look at all of this spelled out in The Leap Manifesto: Leap Manifesto website as we explored the concepts last year around Leap Day.
February 25, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown and Summerside, and a sure sign of Spring somewhere on the horizon is that today is one of the Seedy Saturdays, this one in Charlottetown:
Seedy Saturday, 2-3:30PM, Confederation Centre Public Library, Ch'town. Free.
"Seedy Saturdays are part of a world-wide movement for community-ownership of seed, based on the idea that access to seed is a human right. Everyone is welcome to come and bring saved or leftover seed to share and swap. Seed leftover at the end of the event goes to the PEI Seed Library Network, and is distributed free across the island in the spring."
Sunday, February 26th,
Bonshaw Ceilidh for Herb and Marie MacDonald Fire Fund, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, admission by donation. Herb is a local musician who gives to many, many causes, and a fire destroyed some barns on their property last month.
PEI Brass Choir Inaugural Concert, 2:30PM, UPEI, Dr. Steele Recital Hall, admission $15/$10 students.
Pieces include Fanfare for the Common Man, "Jupiter" from The Planets, and Pictures at an Exhibition. Mighty brass.
Late this week, a slew of government press releases arrived in my e-mailbox, including one asserting something like 96% of Islanders have a primary care person and some other statistics. I was surprised at the numbers but didn't investigate.
Opposition Health Critic James Aylward picks the claims apart in this PC Party media release,
<<snip>> Aylward noted that a recent government press release on family doctor access referred to ‘primary care providers’, which includes health professionals other than doctors such as Nurse Practitioners who don’t have as broad a scope of practice as doctors. Aylward also questioned the use of the term ‘active individuals on the registry’, what constitutes an active versus an inactive person on the Patient Registry, and what the true combined number of active and inactive people waiting on the Patient Registry actually is.
“What Islanders are looking for is access to a family doctor like they were promised, not alternative facts trying to minimize what a serious problem we have with the Patient Registry and family doctor access in this province,” says Aylward. <<snip>>
Fred Cheverie writes from Souris:
FRED CHEVERIE: Rural health and woodpeckers - The Guardian Opinion piece by Fred Cheverie
Published on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
In the Souris area, if one is unfortunate enough to become ill in an evening or on a weekend, it is highly unlikely they will have a clinic to attend.
People are told not to visit Emergency Services, thus their only choice would be to travel to a Charlottetown clinic. We have better veterinarian access in Kings County than human healthcare.
This past year a visiting locum doctor wanted to work weekends and offer clinics. Health P.E.I. refused to allow it, as it would be an extra cost. He volunteered to do it for free, and they still refused on the grounds of the cost of the extra staff. The staff agreed to volunteer their services and they were still refused. This dispels all arguments of extra cost. Can someone at Health P.E.I. please explain this to me?
Health P.E.I. has an administration level three times the national average. In Canada’s smallest province, our healthcare system is operating in a state of mayhem even in our urban centers. With that much staff, how can we be in such a state?
Obviously, one has to look at the ministerial and CEO level. Those in charge are failing miserably on their responsibilities to all of us and it is unacceptable. From our aging parents through to our grandchildren – we all deserve so much better than this.
The premier and cabinet surround themselves with appointed committees. They receive honorariums and become rubber stamps to proclaim the doctrine of their leader, all nodding their heads in approval, looking much like woodpeckers seeking a tasty treat.
Health P.E.I., the Standing Committee on Health and MP Lawrence MacAulay have heard our presentation, but no action. Nobody appears to be listening, or are they controlled by a powerful establishment that wants everything centralized in Charlottetown?
If Islanders want a change in the front lines of healthcare delivery, we must ensure there are changes at the top – the woodpeckers aren’t getting the job done. We can do better.
- Fred Cheverie of Souris is a member of the Souris and Area Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation (Kings County director), and a community environmental and social activist
Paul MacNeill also comments on his in his editorial last week:
Rural Health Care Deserves Better
David L. Arnold, PhD, executive director of Northern Alaska Environmental Center, ("Conserving and protecting habitats in Interior and Arctic Alaska for wildlife, culture, environmental health and future generations since 1971.") writes the Global Chorus entry for today:
For humanity to find a way past our current global environmental and social crises we need to think and behave much differently than we do today. Our only hope is revolution of thought, moving forward one individual at a time.
This paradigm shift requires widespread communication of a message based on human evolution and moral responsibility as individuals, to change the way we perceive other individuals and the environment, with a keen eye on the spatial (geographic) context of the world in which we now live.
The message is based on empathy and survival. Empathy is not a learned trait, but has a biological basis to ensure survival of the species. Empathy involves a connection with other life forms, both human and animal. Initially that connection is emotional; however, in some cases we actively reach out and provide support. The latter is a requirement for survival of both our species and our planet.
The real question is, what stops us from taking that crucial step from emotional connection to actively reaching out?
While empathy is a natural evolutionary tendency, so is our mistrust of anyone or anything that lies outside the bounds of our own relatively isolated cultures. While distrust has served us well as a species in the distant past, we find ourselves facing a much different world today. Technology has advanced at a rate that dramatically exceeds that of human biological evolution, so that now, the tendency to mistrust or become aggressive against those different from ourselves is working against our survival.
Our only hope is to recognize our own biologically based biases, identify them when they occur, and consciously work to fight against them. Only then will we be able to recognize that any advanced life forms and the environment that sustains them, is a part of all of us. In other words, to ensure our survival, we must ensure the survival of all others.
— David L. Arnold
February 24, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
It sounds like the panel discussion at the ECOPEI AGM was lively; it has been video-recorded and archived on Facebook, here:
Tonight, District 18 (Rustico-Emerald) residents and I am sure others are welcome to their MLA Brad Triver's
Beverages and Banter, 7PM, Harmony House Theatre, Hunter River. Coffee, tea and water are free but there will be other beverages for sale.
from The Journal-Pioneer, February 23rd, 2017:
From Graphic publisher Paul MacNeill--
And people wonder why we’re angry - The Graphic
by Paul MacNeill, published in The Graphic papers on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
It would be unfair to say our elected leaders don’t give a damn about rural PEI. But it is fair to say they too often turn to gimmicks in an attempt to appease us rather than develop policy and infrastructure necessary to support us. Last week showed this in spades.
Premier MacLauchlan is known for deliberate thinking. His ‘cabinet shuffle’ was anything but. Rushed, ill-conceived, an unnecessary cost to taxpayers, and not nearly broad enough all describe the snap decision to drop Richard Brown and replace him with Sonny Gallant and Alberton MLA Pat Murphy in the not so new Department of Rural and Regional Development. Murphy lands a seat at the cabinet table without actually having a department to manage. He gets all the perks – salary of $115,000, government car and gas card, Cadillac pension – but does not have a department to manage. He will apparently be responsible for a secretariat. It seems Murphy’s primary task is to make existing programs and services appear to be new rural development.
It is a political repackaging of a trick already tried by the Liberal government when it found itself facing a rural revolt, also spurred by the centralized bureaucracy’s desire to close small schools. Robert Ghiz created the Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development in 2009, which established so-called rural action centres across the province. Wade MacLauchlan is simply manipulating existing infrastructure to make it appear he is doing something for rural PEI in the face of massive opposition to his flawed, biased and undemocratic school review process.
It is a misnomer to suggest this shuffle is anything but a photo op. The premier fired the wrong Charlottetown cabinet minister. Richard Brown can antagonize, is often hyper political, but still has a keen interest in public policy and the impact government has on ordinary citizens. At a school meeting in Montague earlier this month he was clapping along with the 300 plus in attendance opposing a government recommendation to close Belfast and Georgetown schools.
Perhaps the display sealed his fate. If the premier were interested in a true shuffle he would fire Education Minister Doug Currie, who has lost all credibility with the public.
In a statement that flew under the radar, the premier feigned surprise at recent census data that shows a decline in the rural population. He said it has created an urgency to act, including charging Murphy with developing a rural population strategy.
It is beyond laughable. Rural population decline is absolutely nothing new and the premier’s suggestion that now is the time to develop a strategy is a condemnation of his own leadership. Wade MacLauchlan used the 2016 throne speech to promise the Island population would increase to 150,000 by the end of this year. Did he believe all growth would occur in Charlottetown? Should he not have asked the question about how to encourage population growth across the whole of the province. He is the premier. He also co-chaired the Georgetown Conference in 2013 that discussed this issue in detail, including the school hub model which his failed department of education has inexplicably already rejected.
Government’s flurry of announcements last week, designed to pump up flagging support while the regions leading pollster, CRA, is in the field conducting its quarterly poll, includes creation of a task force to examine the issue of Northumberland Ferries, a service vital to the economy of eastern PEI. There is nothing inherently wrong with a task force. It offers an opportunity for individuals, business and tourism operators to talk publicly about the impact of second rate service. Government says it will pass along any recommendations to the federal government because it has oversight.
It is this pass the hot potato strategy that grates. We do not require a task force to know what needs to be done with Northumberland Ferries: 1) Immediate replacement of the Holiday Island; 2) Long term strategy to replace the Confederation; 3) Secure long term funding; 4) Open the ferry service up to a competitive RFP process for the first time in its history.
These are all issues the premier should be raising loudly with the federal government. We’ve been told that Atlantic Canada will benefit from Fortress Liberal, which delivered four provincial governments and a sweep of the 32 federal ridings in the region. Results don’t match Liberal rhetoric.
A pilot immigration program is a good program, but the federal government took us to the cleaners on a 10 year health care funding deal and its demand to implement a carbon tax will have a dire direct impact on ordinary Islanders.
You can’t blame rural Islanders for failing to feel the love from both the federal and provincial governments. We don’t care about press releases and political manipulations. We care about action, results and respect – things we’ve seen very little of. -- Paul MacNeill
This essay written two or so years ago (so of course before the 2016 U.S. election and Fall 2015 Canadian election) for the February 24th Global Chorus by Amitabha Sadangi, CEO of International Development Enterprises in India, which is concerned with the well-being of smallholder farmers. P.E.I. MP and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay is in India on a trade trip now.
I strongly believe in hope and in the fact that if we just focus on what “is,” then probably we will never be able to think of what “could be.” The term “human” (Latin = “wise man”) includes in it “wisdom,” which is not a lower-rung emotion, but a higher-order capacity to guide action!
Today’s reality includes an unstable political environment and therefore a lack of desire for public welfare. This translates into action that probably is further promoting greed and a desire to possess instead of a collective understanding/action. However, I believe that this political environment is of our own making – and it is the most informed decision/ action that I as an individual can take that will surely contribute to resolving these seemingly complicated “global issues”: there is a need to deconstruct these issues and bring them down to an individual level of awareness and therefore action.
In my life of working for the smallholder farmers, I realized, from the very first day, the importance of connecting with each farmer and making an effort to understand their life (not just their problems). From these interactions emerged their joys, sufferings, victories and challenges. This helped in identifying them not as mere helpless people out there but as entrepreneurs waiting for the optimum environment for their blossoming. An effort to respond to their challenges helped us develop this repertoire of technologies that best respond to their needs, with a framework for implementation that they could most benefit from and that could help them unleash their tremendous potential. A small start in a small village of one state of India has grown to fifteen states (and globally) today, and its recognition as one of the most important solutions for the global irrigation problem, water conservation, building food security and saving the environment. Who could have thought of this? The thought of over six million people walking with their heads held high is both humbling and heartening.
In my opinion, the need is to have belief in the inherent potential. This, coupled with appropriate direction and guidance, can definitely help resolve even the gravest of problems and situations.
— Amitabha Sadangi
February 23, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Environmental Coalition of P.E.I. annual general meeting, 6:30PM, Haviland Club, corner of Water Street and Haviland. An always efficient and very informative AGM followed this year by a panel discussion featuring Don Mazer, Marie Ann Bowden, and Gary Schneider, about the upcoming Water Act draft.
Also (forgot to post prior to now),
Meet Your Farmer, 7PM, Upstreet Brewery.
Details from Facebook event link:
Come on down to Upstreet on Thursday, February 23rd to meet the local farmers who grow your food! This event is a celebration of International Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Day.
WHAT'S GOING ON?!
- TRIVIA with a farm & food twist!
- GIVEAWAYS and DOOR PRIZES!
- SEED-PLANTING for you to take home OR leave to be grown at the Farm Centre Community Garden next door!
- And of course BEER -- Upstreet's amazing lineup of locally-made craft brews!
INFO ABOUT CSA DAY
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an easy way for people like you to support small-scale farmers in a meaningful way that makes a BIG difference to local agriculture. Every year in February on CSA Day, tens of thousands of people around the world sign up for CSAs.
In a CSA, customers pay their farmers at the beginning of the year in exchange for weekly veggie boxes throughout the season. CSAs help farmers pay for seeds, equipment, labour and other expenses throughout the year while their crops are growing.
As a customer, you get to know who's growing your food, you get food that is WAY fresher than in the grocery stores, and you can rest assured knowing that more of your food dollars are going to your farmer.
Meet Your Farmers is presented by TopFeed.ca, PEI's online home delivery service that deals exclusively with local food. In the 2017 growing season, we're working with Maple Bloom Farm's CSA to bring you the Weekly Veggie Box. We're partnering with small-scale farmers from all across the province to provide you with fresh, sustainable, and locally grown PEI veggies every week of the growing season starting in June. <snip>
Some forestry stories:
Bob Bancroft, wildlife biologist and very caring human being, wrote this opinion piece recently about what's happening in Nova Scotia forests:
OPINION: Public forests should not be private resource - The Chronicle-Herald Opinion piece by Bob Bancroft
Published on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
In his Opinion piece (All tree loss isn’t due to clear-cutting, Feb. 11), Marcus Zwicker is far from forthright about the current state of forests and forestry operations in Nova Scotia. Nor is he laying out his financial interest as the manager of WestFor, a consortium of 13 mills that recently received management and cutting rights on 1.4 million acres of Crown land.
This lease came from top public servants in the N.S. Department of Natural Resources with no public consultation. Much of this public land was a purchase from the Bowater Mersey company in 2012 at a cost to taxpayers of $111 million. The land is not being managed in the public interest. Rather, the trees and wildlife habitats will be liquidated to create private profits.
Leases and stumpage rates paid by industry to government for this wood are secretive and based on a quota system. No third party checks the actual harvests. Overcutting goes by the board (or the tonne), so to speak. Subsidized, cheap wood prices prevail, while the resource is squandered. Private producers cannot compete. Wildlife is displaced and dies.
The latest information from the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers in 2014 states that 86 per cent of Crown land harvests in Nova Scotia were clearcuts. Ms. Crossland, in her Chronicle Herald opinion piece of Jan. 14, conceded that satellite images don’t differentiate forest cover losses from fires, blueberries, etc. Mr. Zwicker’s suggestion that a significant portion of the forest cover losses depicted in the satellite images might not be clearcuts defies existing government data. His “partial cut” category could also translate to “two-stage clearcuts” in the near future.
Zwicker’s assertion that “harvesting trees does not cause deforestation . . . harvested areas regrow” flies in the face of accepted science, ignores many harsh ecological consequences and is misleading.
Regrows in what? Clear-cutting eliminates seed sources of local, original tree species and exposes the forest floor to sunlight. It impoverishes soils, dries up streams, and causes poor quality tree species to regenerate. Nutrients are washed or blown away, while soil fungi that promote tree growth die.
Nature’s naturally-established regeneration patterns are turned upside down.
Another Zwicker statement is that there are “More trees now than in 1912”. A century ago plenty of forest had been cleared for farming, and still more forest was lost to escaped fires from land clearing and logging slash fires.
Since that time, abandoned pastures were reclaimed by white spruce stands, with alders, balsam fir, poplar, wire birch and some tamarack. So while it is true that after 1912 , there were “more trees”, the reforested sites were dominated by even-aged, short-lived species that were susceptible to insects and blowdown, and are considered much lower quality by most foresters. Those new forests were then clear cut and, lately, clear cut again, each time lowering soil nutrient supply and the quality of the trees that grow back.
Mr. Zwicker and WestFor are determined to flatten as much wood as they can, as fast as they can, and as cheaply as they can.
Public lands should be available for wildlife, recreation, and to supply forest products like maple syrup that maintain a healthy forest while offering long-term local employment. WestFor started their operations in western Nova Scotia last year.
The satellite images that document the destruction to follow have only just begun.
Bob Bancroft is a biologist who chaired the Department of Natural Resources science panel in 2009-10.
An inspiring story about forests from Indonesia:
Indonesian president hands over management of forests to indigenous people - World Agroforestry Centre web blog by Amy LumbanGaol and Lia Hahlia
Published on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
President Joko Widodo has bestowed the right to manage customary forests on nine indigenous communities, heralding the end of decades of uncertainty and the beginning of a new era of secure right to land. The World Agroforestry Centre and Global Affairs Canada have helped one community regain control of their forests.
Indonesia has had a long history of conflict over control of its massive areas of tropical forests that are spread across the many thousands of islands that make up the archipelagic nation. Declaration under former Dutch colonial rule of state ownership of all forests was rarely accepted by the millions of people who lived in them and who had managed them sustainably for centuries.
Widodo’s formal handover of titles is a highly symbolic step in the long fight for recognition by indigenous communities, whose customary rights remained contested by the new nationalist government after independence in 1945 despite being enshrined in the founding constitution. The islands now known as Indonesia have long been home to thousands of distinct ethnic groups with their own languages, customs and identity. <<snip-- see link for full article>>
And forestry in P.E.I.?
Christine McEntee, who is executive director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union ("dedicated to the furtherance of the Earth and space sciences"), must be delighted with the news yesterday about more potentially Earth-like planets in relatively nearby solar systems. McEntee wrote the February 23rd Global Chorus essay:
Scientific research and discovery have brought us monumental achievements, such as improved weather forecasts, tsunami warnings, air and water quality monitoring, human flight, life-saving drugs, abundant food, and telecommunications that continue to revolutionize our exchange of ideas, information and culture. These innovations have protected us from natural and man-made threats, and improved the quality of our lives.
Yet, we face daunting challenges on a global scale as a result of human actions that are rapidly and profoundly influencing the Earth’s environment and its ability to support us. In spite of our innate ingenuity, we have yet to fully apply scientific knowledge to inform solutions to these problems – from ensuring people have clean and adequate water; to providing communities with efficient and sustainable sources of energy; to preserving threatened ecosystems and biodiversity. Underlying these issues is the greatest challenge of all – to adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change and at the same time mitigate further damage.
Earth and space scientists and their colleagues in related fields are at the forefront of uncovering and explaining what has happened, and forecasting what is likely to happen based on sound scientific evidence and reasoning. Their insight is critical to informing rational decisions about our path forward.
Our long-term success in solving problems of this global magnitude will hinge on the strength of a joint commitment from the scientific community, business and industry, community leaders and government and NGOs, working together to make a long-term, sustainable impact.
For such a partnership to succeed, we are compelled to set ideology aside, to adopt a mindset characterized by a spirit of inquiry and dedication to continually seeking and implementing solutions. We must recognize that the decisions we make today will shape the world that we hand to our descendants for hundreds of generations. The gravity of that responsibility and the potential consequences of getting it wrong are too dire for us to delay action any further. The time to act is now.
— Christine McEntee
February 22, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Word came out yesterday that the government is not going to release the Draft Water Act for review until next month. I am not precisely sure of the reasons for this, except that perhaps there are enough public consultations going on right now. There will still be public consultations on this when it comes out before a final draft would be presented to the P.E.I. Legislature.
ECOPEI will discuss some issues and ideas about the potential Water Act at its AGM and panel discussion, tomorrow night, Haviland Club, starting at 6:30PM. The panel will feature Gary Schneider, environmental lawyer MarieAnn Bowden, and Don Mazer (originally it was Catherine O'Brien, who was called away for work reasons).
So what else is going on (all omissions and misinterpretations are my own):
E-gaming: Public Accounts Legislative Committee meeting, today, 10AM, J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Great George and Richmond, all welcome. "The committee will continue its review of the Auditor General’s report entitled Special Assignment: Government Involvement with the E-gaming Initiative and Financial Services Platform. Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance." Committee Meetings this week.
School Review: one public meeting left (Morell, I think, Monday, February 27th), public comment was 60 days and that ends in about one month. School review website.
Electoral Boundaries review --in process, meeting tonight: https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/
Wednesday, February 22nd, Electoral Boundaries public meeting, 6:30-8:30PM, Souris Regional School.
Timeline from their website:
December 22, 2016 - Commission struck
January - March 2017 - Public Meetings
Deadline for written submissions - One week prior to each individual Public Meeting
Spring, 2017 - Report presented to the Speaker of the House (Legislature begins its Spring Sitting Tuesday, April 4th, 2017)
Provincial Energy Strategy -- what given to province in the Fall 2016 -- waiting for public release
"Dunsky Consulting has delivered the final draft of the Energy Strategy, including recommended action items, to the PEI Energy Corporation. We are now in the process of sharing these recommendations with all government departments who have a stake in the success of the Strategy. We are also developing an implementation plan to be publicly released along with the Strategy itself. You can expect to see the Strategy and Implementation Plan released in the early fall." from: http://www.peiec.ca/the-strategy.html
OK, a little behind there.
Climate Change Mitigation Strategy (that's the one aobut reducing GGH) -- waiting for draft to be released for public comment
Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (that's the one about dealing with the effects -- the weather, the landscape changes -- in process of being developed, by UPEI and the Department of Communities, Land and Environment
Part of the speech by Ian Petrie, journalist and resident of the Belfast area, at Monday's rally. This was printed on social media, but it was in all capitals and ellipses which hurt my eyes, so here it is in lowerclass, with apologies to Ian Petrie for messing with his words:
It's interesting that when P.E.I. wants to show off what it's most proud of -- what it wants others to think about -- we don't use a picture of the WalMart in Charlottetown, or the Royal Bank Building. It's cultivated fields...fishing harbours...cattle grazing in the fields. But behind these shots are the people who shape the landscape with their work....take the risks on the open eater or the frozen bay to harvest oysters and mussels in the winter. People who have a chosen a life not many do these days.
We should celebrate them...thank them. These are the people who will drive the exports you are looking for, Premier MacLauchlan, (who) invest the money....do the hard work. But they deserve to be seen as more than just workers or entrepreneurs. They have families and communities around them -- that's what sustains and maintains their commitment -- and schools are the heart of these communities. Don't do anything that would take away that opportunity to give their children the best start to their lives, the kind of opportunity by son had at Belfast....
--Ian Petrie, We Are Rural Strong rally, February 20th, 2017
Quinn Vandenberg is co-founder, along with Jonathan Button, of Life Out of the Box , which she discusses here, in this February 22nd Global Chorus essay:
For the past year and a half, our work with Life Out of the Box has focused on the social crises that are currently occurring in Central American countries. My experience of living in poverty here has led me to believe that solutions can be made and change can occur on all levels in humanity through education.
This belief that education can be used to change the world has shaped the mission of Life Out of the Box to what it is today. After months of research, we realized that an issue we kept running into as we worked with schools and NGO programs was that the kids didn’t have the tools to be able to educate themselves.
To us, this was easily solvable, which led to the creation of the social venture Life Out of the Box. We sell locally handmade products from Guatemala and Nicaragua overseas and for every product sold, we give school supplies to children in Central America. When we give the kids school supplies, we ask each of them what they want to be when they grow up. Half of the process is giving them the tools to learn and be creative (notebooks, pencils, etc.), but the other essential half is to give these children in some of the worst situations hope for a bright future.
We show the customers overseas the child they impacted so that they can truly connect. Our goal is raise awareness of the issues in the countries we give to as well as show people that they really can make a difference.
What we are doing is a small contribution to the overwhelmingly large issues the world is currently facing. However, if we can give hope to just one child that helps them out of a desperate situation, then we have succeeded. My hope is that through our actions, we can inspire others to get out of their own box and make a difference in the world in their own way. Maybe we can’t change the whole world, but there isn’t one of us who can’t change one person’s whole world.
— Quinn Vandenberg
February 21, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The "We Are Rural Strong" Rally yesterday sounded very well attended, with a main message that P.E.I.'s rural areas are vital and it is a message they want government to "get".
Great speakers reiterated the message, and the crowd did not hold back its displeasure at Agriculture and Fisheries minister Alan McIsaac as he recited the format for public input on the school review (from Guardian video, here.)
It was good to hear comments on social media from folks (including Sidney MacEwen, MLA for District 7:Morell-Mermaid) that it was Islanders from rural *and* urban communities coming together to send a message for government to pay attention to the issues important to all.
Robert van Waarden, internationally recognized photographer, captured some images of the event and has graciously given me permission to print some here.
from his Facebook page album of the event; more photos at the link:
February 20th, 2017, Queen Street, Ch'town, photo by Robert van Waarden
February 20th, 2017, near Province House, photo by Robert van Waarden
Walking down Richmond Street, February 20th, 2017, photo by Robert vanWaarden
Tonight, Tuesday, February 21st, 7PM:
Westisle Family of Schools Review (second-to-last public meeting on School Review), Westisle Composite High School.
The final public meeting will be Monday, February 27th.
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017,
Electoral Boundaries public meeting, 6:30-8:30PM, Souris Regional School.
PEI Electoral Boundaries Commission Facebook Page is here:
with postings to encourage public interest in the process.
The main website is here
including an audio transcript of the February 7th meeting in Summerside.
List of all the remaining meetings:
Lieutenant-General (retired) Roméo A. Dallaire, former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, and founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative http://www.childsoldiers.org/
writes today's Global Chorus essay.
Humanity is synonymous with hope.
There would be no children if parents did not see a possibility of a better world ahead. So we have children and they struggle to advance the plight that they were left with and they themselves, reaching maturity, express their hope by also having children. But a new wave, a sort of revolution has occurred over the last decade or so. And that is the realization that the youth of the world who are mastering the communications revolution so readily available to them have essentially morphed into a generation that I would call the generation without borders.
They are going to move the yardsticks of humanity towards its objective of serenity and communion with the planet by shoving older generations into a web coalesced by social media. The generation without borders grasps the concept of the totality of humanity, it lives with the notion that borders are not limits to their potential to affect the environment, they are comfortable in global concepts such as human rights, and they thrive in seeking more and more information on all things.
Hope is not a method, but optimism is the guarantor of humanity’s serenity.
— Roméo Dallaire,
February 20, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Islander Day!
Here are some details on the
We Are Rural Strong Rally, with the Walk beginning at 1:30PM, assembling at Peakes Quay, walking to Water Street, to Queen Street, down Richmond Street, to the Coles Building grounds for a rally.
snip <<A number of issues important to rural P.E.I. were identified in the press release for the event – tired of paying more taxes for less services, feeling like government has been cutting services and infrastructure in rural communities, possible school closures, health care, hospitals and more. <snip> A number of organizations have been invited to take part. For more information, email Mallory Peters at email@example.com or call 902-870-0077.
An article with Lynne Lund of the Green Party PEI calling the recent government announcements on rural issues just "lurching from one issue to the next."
Many of these these issues were discussed on CBC Radio Friday morning for their Political Panel, featuring MaryLynn Kane, Dennis King, and Paul MacNeill (who admitted that it is he who is banging on the table).
Island Morning Political Panel, Friday, February 17th:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21st, 7PM:
Westisle Family of Schools Review (second-to-last public meeting on School Review), Westisle Composite High School. All welcome (as a Kinkora area organizer has said, "This is the whole Island's fight" and is organizing buses to help get people there).
The final public meeting will be Monday, February 27th
ECOPEI will have its AGM Thursday, February 23rd, in the same place as the storm-postponed meeting -- the Haviland Club at the corner of Haviland and Water Streets, meeting at 6:30PM, panel discussion on the draft water act starting at 7PM, admission by donation.
Chuck Leavell, long-time keyboard player and for the Rolling Stones, is also a conservationist and director of environmental affairs for MNN, the Mother Nature Network http://www.mnn.com/
which has a great deal of interesting reading for a day off, if that's what you have.
I have always been an optimist, so yes, I believe we can meet our environmental and social challenges.
What does it take? Obviously it will take awareness first for us to fully comprehend what the challenges are and how to meet them head-on. Then it will require exploring the options and coming to a collective decision on which options are best and make the most sense both for the actions required and for economic reasons. We can solve these problems, but it needs to be good business to do so. And I’ve always maintained that it IS good business to do so. The list of challenges and solutions is too lengthy to address in a simple statement, but good old common sense, in my opinion, is the best guide we have.
I believe people care about the future of our children, grandchildren and later generations. If we use common sense and a willingness to make the right decisions and take the right actions, we’ll make it.
One thing is certain: doing nothing is not an option.
— Chuck Leavell
February 19, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Event tomorrow, Islander Day Monday, February 20th:
"We Are Rural Strong", 1-3PM, assembling at Peakes Quay and going to Coles Building, with various speakers.
Some additional insights into the stresses in the educational system, this article from a high school teacher in Nova Scotia, Leo McKay. I suspect the acronyms may be different in each province, but the increased expectations and reduced supports are likely very, very similar.
If you haven't signed this, or have and may have friends that might be interesting in signing, here is the link to the electronic petition to have government move forward on electoral reform.
The numbers are impressive and even more will have quite an impact.
From Citizens' Alliance board member Don Mazer, in the Guardian this week (with my correction to their misspelling of his name in the on-line headline):
DON MAZER: Small but mighty P.E.I. - The Guardian Opinion piece by Don Mazer
Published on Thursday, February 16th, 2017
When we had our plebiscite on electoral reform last fall, we knew the rest of Canada would be watching.
Electoral reform was on the national agenda. The Prime Minister had promised no more elections under the current First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system. P.E.I. was the only province to be voting on electoral reform.
There was a sense that what happened here in our small province could have a mighty impact on electoral reform for the rest of the country. We could be leading the way into a future where every vote could count on PEI and in Canada.
We all know what happened next. In the plebiscite, a majority of voters supported mixed member proportional representation (PR). Within two days, the Premier indicated that he would not accept the results of this democratic vote. He supported his decision with criteria that had not been cited until the plebiscite didn’t square with his preferred outcome of a preferential ballot. He talked about low voter turnout, an awkward and difficult ballot with too many choices, concerns about the silent majority who did not vote.
And early on in the process Mr. MacLauchlan had indicated that he wasn’t a ‘fan of PR’. Debate in the house was brief, every Liberal MLA fell into line, many of them in opposition to the votes of their constituents, and the motion for PR failed. Instead the Premier proposed a long range and nonbinding plan for the possibility of a future referendum with PR as an electoral option. Time to move on.
It is useful to remember that the Premier was the person who had initiated the idea of electoral reform a year before.
Now, the Prime Minister of Canada has announced that he is abandoning the process of electoral reform, breaking his campaign promise that 2015 would be the last federal election held with FPTP. Mr. Trudeau had his reasons: not enough citizen interest, too much division of opinion, no clear direction forward, concern about the influence of “fringe parties.” This after introducing a hastily developed, poorly designed and expensive survey of ‘electoral values’ where people couldn’t indicate their support for PR. This after the interparty Parliamentary committee recommended a referendum on a form of PR as the preferred option for electoral change while Mr. Trudeau had supported a ranked ballot. His conclusion? “Proportional representation in any form would be bad for Canada.” Time to move on.
So what happened on our ‘small but mighty’ Island was indeed significant for the rest of Canada. The actions of our Premier seem to have paved the way for Mr. Trudeau’s decision about electoral non-reform. Our Premier demonstrated that he could exercise his absolute authority, refuse to honour the vote, and reject the democratic process. One could say that Mr. MacLauchlan emboldened and empowered Mr. Trudeau to act in a similar way, to break his clear promise, and dismiss the voice of the many citizens who had participated in the process that he initiated, to indicate their support for PR.
The Prime Minster might have thought we’d be too concerned about the chaos of the new American presidency to keep our attention on electoral reform. But he might reflect on how the President came to office. He might think about how citizens can feel so ignored and unheard, so disempowered and unimportant, and so angry about political privilege, that they will look past their misgivings about character, sexism, racism, and lack of qualifications just to vote for a change.
Perhaps Mr. Trudeau and Mr. MacLauchlan might reflect on how their own displays of absolute authority in opposition to the public will could contribute to the kind of disillusionment that has fueled the populist uprising that has led to the Trump presidency.
Like Mr. Trump, our Prime Minister and Premier seem inclined to only “accept the results….if I win.”
- Don Mazer is a member of the Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I. He lives in Suffolk.
Today's Global Chorus essay is by Jonathon Porritt, author, and founder and director of Forum for the Future, a U.K.-based "independent non-profit working globally with business, government and other organisations to solve complex sustainability challenges." Lots of information and a newsletter you can subscribe to.
Given the state of the global environment, we have to be a little bit suspicious about any excess of optimism!
Personally, I’m hugely skeptical about the latest wave of technovangelism which would have us believe that there is literally no problem that new technology cannot solve. Forget systemic dysfunctionality at the heart of our political systems; forget corruption and the ruthless exercise of power on the part of the world’s hyper-rich; and forget all those inconvenient datasets that remind us that we’re already living way beyond the carrying capacity of certain natural systems. Technology will solve all.
There’s always been a certain optimism bias in the Green Movement. It’s actually incredibly difficult to sustain motivation if the prevailing mood music is doom and gloom. Without hope, the passion withers; and without passion, the quality of our advocacy can be seriously undermined.
My own optimism bias has waxed and waned over the last forty years. It’s often reflected through the metaphor of “the window of opportunity” – as in “we have just xxx years to make the necessary changes.” Worryingly, I can’t help but notice that I’m still talking about a window of “no more than ten years” – just as I was back in the 1970s!
However, I find myself more hopeful today than I have been for years – not least because I’ve been writing a new book about “our sustainable world in 2050.” This has required me to drill down much deeper into the innovation pipeline for sustainable technologies than I’ve ever done before. And that pipeline is absolutely bulging. Technology isn’t the problem. Politics, money and power are the problem. Which is why the technovangelists do us such a disservice, fixated as they are by big technologies like nuclear and GM that leave untouched the bigger systemic problems of which they themselves are such a problematic part.
We can only harness the benign power of potential technology breakthroughs if our systems of governance and accountability are hale and hearty at every level in society. And they’re not.
— Jonathon Porritt
February 18, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Thoughts of spring and gardening.....
next Saturday, February 25th:
Charlottetown Seedy Saturday, 2PM, Confederation Centre Public Library. Come with seeds to donate or exchange or purchase.
Some details on getting local seeds here:
A local film about the importance of local food:
Citizens' Alliance Board member Carol Carragher (and others) reminded us of the beautiful Island Green movie, by Mille Clarkes, 25 minutes long, found on the National Film Board's website, here:
From Sally Bernard, shadow agriculture critic for the Green Party of P.E.I.:
The Single Metric Government - The Green Party of PEI web article by Sally Bernard
by Sally Bernard, published on-line on Monday, February 13th, 2017
It was with much curiosity that I read Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Allan MacIsaac’s Report on Agriculture in PEI for 2016 with the headline, “Banner Year for Agriculture on PEI”. Curiosity because the top headline in the same paper indicated that blueberry producers were struggling with overproduction issues. Having previously heard of these overproduction issues at a regional level and from individual growers and associated bee keepers, I was surprised to note a great hurrah-for-blueberries arising in the midst of Minister MacIsaac’s speech, for the not insignificant increase in yields that Island producers have seen recently.
It is shortsighted of the government to use yields as the sole measure of agricultural success. Just as we are asked to judge our schools by their fiscal prudence and turn a blind eye to all of the other factors that make up a healthy environment that allows children to thrive and grow in all sorts of other measurable and some not so measurable ways. This government continues to expect us to pick one distracting metric and ignore all the others.
Minister MacIsaac would have us believe that big yields alone are a strong indicator of the health of the agriculture sector and we are expected to ignore the health of the markets, ecological health, the health of the farmers and farm workers and the sustainability of pushing our soil, water and air quality to the brink of failure. Surely a comprehensive look at agriculture over an entire year would consider yields, but as only one part of a larger organism. A wider view would consider the number of farmers and successions to the next generation, as well as new farmers joining the community. A closer look would surely consider some of the challenges facing farmers and report on efforts to reduce those. A thoughtful report would consider farm receipts but also recognize those smaller scale farmers selling direct to customers via bustling Farmer’s Markets and direct marketing programs such as food baskets and CSAs, who truly feed the perception of agriculture on PEI and who could serve as the greatest ambassadors for the sector. With much of agriculture on PEI claiming an image problem and struggling to earn ‘public trust’, one would hope that the Minister might take the opportunity to promote something other than yields, only serving to justify the perception of many that other factors are being overlooked in favour of pushing the soil and natural resources past what is sustainable for everyone to share.
I have to wonder, with new diseases in the essential honeybee colonies and more land being clear cut to further increase production, what the blueberry producers felt as they also read of the Minister’s “banner year”. Let’s hope that by next year government understands that sustainable agricultural prosperity - whether that be in blueberries, barley, beef or anything else - must be measured using a broader and more complete set of metrics.
Regarding the huge demonstration of teachers and other workers outside the Nova Scotia legislature yesterday, from Graham Steele, former MLA in Darrell Dexter's NDP government, on social media:
Pro-tip for protestors at Province House: The best way to have an impact on the proceedings inside is to make a LOT of noise. They can hear you inside. Believe me, they can hear you.
When you're on the government side, as I was for four years, it kind of churns your stomach to hear all the noise outside.
But tonight, and on Tuesday after Bill 75 becomes law, the government MLAs will drive away, back to their normal lives.
Big protests are fine, but the really, really impactful things that citizens can do are at the constituency level. The meetings. The phone calls. The encounters at community events. What happens in the next election. That's where MLAs' hearts and minds are.
Always remember: Effective citizens—engaged, knowledgeable, persistent—united in common cause, are the most powerful force that ever was.
--- Graham Steele, February 17th, 2017
Amanda Lindhout in 2008 was a free-lance reporter, and kidnapped for over a year in Somalia. Part of her dealing with her experience has been forming the Global Enrichment Foundation, which promotes peace and education endeavors in third world countries. She writes the February 18th Global Chorus essay:
We are living in a time unlike any other in history.
The Internet has connected us globally and reminds us that we have far more in common than we have differences. We can reach out and help one another in ways that we have never been able to do in the past. Students in Canada can now have conversations with students in Somalia. Women around
the world can join movements for equality which are organized online. The sharing of struggles and success that is born from this interconnectedness will, over time, unite us.
One day soon we will no longer be able to turn a blind eye to the suffering of nations, when we realize that we are all part of one global community.
— Amanda Lindhout
February 17, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The ECO-PEI annual general meeting will be next Thursday, February 23rd, 6:30PM, with a new location to be determined.
Saturday, February 18th:
Schoolhouse in the Playhouse -- Featuring The Four Tellers, 7PM, tickets $15. "Variety show fundraiser for the efforts of the Georgetown Strategy Group involved with saving our Island schools."
Monday, February 20th (Islander Day):
"We are Rural Strong" Rally, 1PM, meeting at Peakes Quay, Charlottetown.
Last schools' review public meetings:
Tuesday, February 21:
Westisle family of schools (re-scheduled), 7PM, Westisle Composite High School
Monday, February 27:
Morell Family of Schools (re-scheduled), 7pm, Morell Regional High School
Don Glendenning is a strong, consistent voice on education:
DON GLENDENNING: It’s time to start over again in education - The Guardian Opinion piece by Don Glendenning
Published on Thursday, February 16th, 2017
The decision to close a number of small schools in P.E.I. seems to fly in the face of prevailing information which says, in effect, that small schools work, the cost per graduate is less than in large schools, small schools serve small, remote and rural communities well and are satisfying places to work.
What’s in play, it seems, is either the cost or conflicting views of education and the role of schools.
But there is an urgent need to change and especially to update our “Philosophy of Education;” the current one, found on the website of the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, was written 28 years ago and is out of date. The last three decades brought many changes in the world around us, though less than many would like to the practices of education. It’s time to formulate a new statement, one that is short, clear and crisp - a public statement of beliefs and direction.
The statement could start with a few definitions – education, schools, schooling, graduation, grades, pass and fail, role of government, relationship between school and employment, role of parents and students. The statement should also include a few guiding principles such as:
· The role of education is to help people develop attitudes, skills and knowledge needed to operate in a democratic society.
· The primary responsibility for education rests with learners and their parents.
· Each learner brings a unique mix of conditions, prior learning experiences and aspirations to each new learning situation.
· The role of government is to encourage education among its citizens and to ensure quality and equity in the distribution of resources
· Government has a responsibility to ensure that our community has the skilled people it needs to maintain and develop the place we call home.
· Education should be treated as a profession with the professionals organizing and delivering services, and being accountable to clients for action taken
· Educating is a developmental process.
· The function of a school system is to deliver educational services if, as when and where needed.
Once we have a framework in place, we can begin to deal with matters of curriculum, standards, facilities, priorities and such other components as form part of an education system.
- Don Glendenning of Charlottetown is a a long-time student of education and former president of Holland College
from Allan Rankin's column in The Graphic newspapers this week:
The Pat Mella Islanders know would never close small rural schools - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin
Published on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017, in The Graphic papers
At the public meetings to hear from Islanders on the School Review Report, hundreds of parents and community representatives already have made their views known. Presentations have been respectful, passionate, and sharply focused on the report’s recommendations, especially the intended closure of five smaller schools.
In Montague last week, busing distances, basic geography, and other data used to justify the report’s findings, was shown to be patently incorrect, and it is now abundantly clear that the Department of Education staff don’t know much about the communities they are supposed to serve.
Rather than sit in silent defense of their shoddy work, Bob Andrews and Parker Grimmer should have skulked away in embarrassment.
Every attempt is being made by government to discredit and undermine rural communities in their courageous and impressive efforts to save their schools. But they have not been silenced, and the political heat is being turned up on Premier MacLauchlan and his government.
The only unsavory and low ball moment came when a Souris man at the Montague meeting personally attacked Pat Mella, one of the three Public Schools Branch board of directors, on her record as Provincial Treasurer during the Pat Binns years.
Quite apart from how Islanders might view her politics, there is no question Pat Mella is an outstanding Islander, and a pioneer in early childhood education, having authored the historic report which ushered in universal full-day kindergarten across the province.
Ironically, a guiding principle of the kindergarten system recommended by Mrs Mella was small class size, in stark contrast to what the current School Review Report would create if implemented.
While I take great issue with the credibility of the board she is part of, as a legitimate representative and consultative body, Pat Mella certainly is deserving of our respect for the public service she has rendered over the years. But then, it’s also fair game to examine that public service, and in particular her views on public education and smaller rural schools when she was Provincial Treasurer and part of former Premier Pat Binns’ Conservative government.
To refresh my memory, I went back and read the Speech from the Throne in March 1997, following the election of Mrs Mella and the Conservatives.
“My government,” it proclaimed, “will maintain small schools and work with the school boards to determine the most appropriate method to achieve this goal.”
Again, in the 2001 Throne Speech, the Conservative government reassured Islanders that “ensuring quality education for Island in their own communities” is a “cornerstone of government’s philosophy.”
Now, Throne Speeches can be like Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Pilgrim’, “partly truth and partly fiction.” They often are designed to satisfy the sweet tooth. I am reminded of millionaire fox farmer Charlie Dalton throwing candy from the back of a train at Alberton Station to the anxious children gathered.
But the Conservative commitment to small schools 15 years ago was not idle political talk. As a former community development worker, Pat Binns knew the value of local institutions, and it’s fair to say that as premier, like that little Dutch boy with his finger in the proverbial dyke, he did his best to support and maintain smaller rural schools.
And though not fully articulated or realized, the Hub concept for small schools also was in the mind’s eye of politicians at the time. “Through improved design and community involvement” claimed the Binns government, “schools can be the centre of community activities. This is not only important to the best utilization of the facility but to its utilization by the community.”
My oh my, how time passes and nothing changes.
Of course, Pat Mella was Provincial Treasurer throughout this period, and a senior member of the Binns government, and when she voted in support of those Throne Speeches in 1997 and 2001, she must have shared their philosophy and agreed with their priorities.
While the demographics are somewhat different, I can’t imagine Mrs Mella feels much differently about the importance of maintaining small schools in rural communities throughout the Island than she did when she was in provincial politics. After all, she grew up in Port Hill and Kinkora, and is a product of small schools herself.
It’s my experience the best public policy decisions are not made to satisfy a bureaucrat’s logic, or an accountant’s pencil, but rather to meet the expressed needs of individuals, families, and communities.
I suggest Mrs Mella revisit her own political party’s history as it pertains to small rural schools, and that before drawing any conclusions about the closure of schools like Belfast Consolidated and Georgetown Elementary, she consult with her former colleague Premier Binns.
She might also solicit the views of two other highly respected Conservatives, Leone Bagnall and Marion Reid, both former teachers and champions of rural community life.
Their advice would be to reinvent small schools, not abandon them.
Board chairperson Susan Willis, accountable to the premier, will do exactly what her boss wants her to do, as will the former director of the now defunct Western School Board, Harvey MacEwen.
But does the independently-minded and progressive Pat Mella want closing small rural schools to be her public legacy?
I don’t think so.
Bill Mollison was a founder and proponent of permaculture, and wrote the February 17th Global Chorus essay. He passed away last September.
Here is some good background:
And an interesting interview with him from about a decade ago:
A newer site on the subject:
Yes, there is always hope. Without hope we might just as well sit at home and prepare for death. Humanity will always find and discover ways past global and social crises. We thrive when challenged.
One answer for continuing to create the conditions necessary for our own survival and that of other species is to adhere to Permaculture principles taught by itinerant teachers who are graduates of our courses. When I travel, I am constantly reassured by the high level of activity of my students. They are teaching the practice of sustainable living and their work with cultures all over the world – from Indians in the Amazon to the Inuit of Canada, peoples from the northern islands of the Arctic to 42° south – is constantly ensuring their enriched survival. And they do this by teaching the basic skills that humanity has always lived by, namely responsibility and pride in the protection of our endemic fauna and flora; environmental awareness; growing nutritious food sustainably; storing, processing and cooking this food; building shelters and sharing with our neighbours. Teaching basic, common-sense life essentials and re-establishing the importance of community will lead to our future survival and a world where many of us will take part in the production of food. By applying these strategies, our future world will contain many more well-informed and capable people.
We need to promote the good in our communities, praise positive actions and outcomes and stop highlighting the negatives in society. By being mindful of how we speak and act we will build hope and provide peace for our future generations. Having taught the philosophy of Permaculture for decades, I am constantly surprised and delighted to receive acknowledgement from countless strangers who are reading my books for the first time. New generations always want to learn and develop better life skills, so there will always be hope.
— Bill Mollison
February 16, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
More beautiful snow!
It's likely that the ECO-PEI AGM and panel discussion will be postponed a week. This is good since the Water Act draft is not out yet.
What is out is District 12 (Charlottetown-Victoria Park) MLA Richard Brown as a Cabinet minister, again. Here is Guardian's political reporter Teresa Wright's description and commentary:
TERESA WRIGHT: Hasty cabinet shuffle raises questions - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Published on-line on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
It appears the growing chorus of concerns about government ignoring or abandoning rural P.E.I. has not fallen on deaf ears
Wednesday’s mini cabinet shuffle saw the creation of a new cabinet portfolio called – you guessed it – “Rural and Regional Development.”
And it’s no surprise that Liberal backbencher Pat Murphy has found himself leading this new portfolio.
Murphy has been an outspoken advocate against the ongoing school change process, which is proposing the closure of five Island schools, including two in Murphy’s district of Alberton-Roseville.
He has publicly said the closures in his riding would “tear rural P.E.I. apart” and has been leading a charge of West Prince residents opposing all school closures, attending public meetings and posting his candid thoughts on social media.
By promoting him to cabinet, MacLauchlan has effectively silenced Murphy, at least publicly. As a member of cabinet, Murphy will have to tow the government line, something many backbenchers already do but are not required to do. And since cabinet has the final say on any school closures, you won’t hear any cabinet ministers saying a word about schools until after final decisions are made.
But it was clear this was two-part plan on MacLauchlan’s part. Creating a new Rural and Regional Development portfolio is meant to show government cares about rural P.E.I. enough to make it a cabinet priority. It’s not a full government department, but it does comes with a new secretariat with offices in Summerside and Montague and satellite services in Alberton, O’Leary, Wellington, Bedeque, Charlottetown and Souris.
When asked whether the creation of this portfolio is a response to the criticism his government has faced over its handling of rural issues, MacLauchlan, surprisingly, agreed.
“This is a recognition that there is a dialogue or a debate to which we can and should contribute and to which we should be responsive,” he told reporters Wednesday.
Murphy, for his part, has said he will be vocal at the cabinet table when it comes to fighting for the schools in his riding. And this will put him at the table if and when school closures do go to cabinet, so that’s a win for him.
On the other side of the coin we find veteran MLA Richard Brown, who has once again been relegated to the backbench, replaced by longtime Liberal backbencher Sonny Gallant.
The reason why Brown was removed from cabinet remains far from clear.
The only statement he would give me was that he most certainly did not quit. And he definitely wasn’t happy about it.
The event itself was also a hastily organized affair.
Earlier in the morning, Gallant was at a regular meeting of public accounts, but abruptly left halfway through the meeting at about 11 a.m.
An hour later, Brown was among a small group who proudly marched with MacLauchlan down Great George Street in a walk against family violence.
Shortly after this march, at about 1 p.m., Brown was told he was out.
The media was informed at 2 p.m. to be at the lieutenant governor’s residence for an announcement at 3 p.m. Finance minister Allen Roach was in a sweater and Education Minister Doug Currie was out of the province. All the usual pomp and circumstance of swearing-in ceremonies was missing.
Why the rush? And why was the longest-serving MLA now sitting in the P.E.I. legislature shuffled out of cabinet? One thing is certain - Islanders deserve to know.
Teresa Wright is The Guardian’s chief political reporter.
For some odd reason, the link of The Guardian's news article about Brown's leaving cabinet has this URL (bold mine):
I am not sure who this leaves to sit on committees, since Pat Murphy and Sonny Gallant were on many of them. It should also be noted that Pat Murphy gave what was one of the more incoherent and self-serving speeches in the Provincial Legislature when he was tapped to second the Premier's Motion 80 in the Fall Sitting on Friday, November 18th, 2016. (This motion, about the Premier's reaction to the Electoral Reform Plebiscite, never went to vote.)
Here is the transcript from the 18th, with the speech beginning on page 1608.
That was also the day, earlier in Question Period, (and on page 1593) the Premier shouted and wagged his finger at Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker, who was questioning events at the Public Accounts Committee and the e-gaming fiasco.
There is no picture of the Premier poking his finger at his fellow legislators in the richly coloured multifold insert on the Liberal MLAs that was in yesterday's Guardian.
It was similar to the one in the paper just about a year ago. "See what allowing corporate donations will let you buy?" commented a friend.
Ah, The Age of Humans:
The February 16th Global Chorus essay is written by Curt Stager, who is a climate scientist, and author of several books on the subject. More (stormy day reading) information on him here:
I believe that the human race as a whole will survive these environmental crises because people throughout history have overcome severe challenges in every imaginable habitat, from burning deserts to polar ice, even without modern technology. But this also means that our descendants will have to live through whatever changes we set in motion within the next few decades. The latest research puts a minimum recovery time of 50,000 to 100,000 years for our heat-trapping, ocean-acidifying carbon emissions to dissipate, and any delay in switching to clean energy sources could stretch that recovery over half a million years.
In this remarkable Age of Humans, a new chapter of geologic time that many scientists are calling the Anthropocene Epoch, we have become so numerous, our technology so powerful and our interconnectedness so profound that we have quite literally become a force of nature. Because the contents of our minds and hearts influence our actions, we now have awesome power to influence each other and our planet far into the Deep Future. But with that power comes awesome responsibility, too; we live at a critical moment in history when decisions we make now can interfere with future ice ages and determine the climatic setting of life on Earth for millennia to come.
This is no time to give up or give in to despair. Although we wield incredible power to cause harm, we also have the power to make the world a better place, and more so now than ever before.
— Curt Stager
February 15, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A few events coming up:
Thursday, February 16th:
ECOPEI Annual General Meeting and Panel on the Water Act, 6:30PM, free but donations accepted.
The storm date will be Thursday, February 23rd, 2017.
(This will give the government more time to get the Water Act draft on-line and for all to get a first look at it.)
Monday, February 20th:
We Are Rural (Georgetown Presents), gathering at Peakes Quay at 1PM, walk starting at 1:30PM. from the event notice:
"Get off your seat and on your feet! WE ARE RURAL STRONG! Bring your boats, farm equipment, vintage cars, bicycles, – or just walk with us on Feb 20th, Islander Day at 1:30 pm.
Where: Begins at Peakes Quay and runs along Water Street, proceeds up Queen Street, turn onto Victoria Row and ends at the Coles Building.
Bring your children, pets, friends and relatives and join us. There will be food, entertainment and solidarity.
Tired of being bulldozed over and ignored? It’s your time to stand-up. See you there."
Same issue, just down the road, applicable to everywhere:
MICHAEL EDWARD: A community of learners - The Guardian Opinion piece by Michael Edward
Ripping heart out of historic, iconic, vibrant community of proud Islanders
Published on Thursday, February 9th, 2017
To: The Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan Dear Mr. Premier: Your government has served notice that it no longer considers Belfast Consolidated School, a community of learners within your province of Prince Edward Island, worth being maintained as a viable center of education
for the children of that community.
Why, Mr. Premier?
Why - by so doing, would you intentionally rip the heart out of this historic, iconic, vibrant community of proud Prince Edward Islanders?
Why - would you fail to see, in our community’s school, an extraordinary history and repository of excellence in education, the very excellence you claim to champion in your pronouncements of educational goals?
Why - would you not be given pause were you to consider the vast list of remarkable achievements by former students of our school: students who have become educators, ecologists, doctors, engineers, ministers, nurses, counselors, musicians, artists, filmmakers, midwives, athletic hall-of-famers, coaches, and yes, even a Rhodes Scholar?
Why - would you then turn off the tap on a facility, a community of learning, with such a remarkable record of incubating extraordinary achievement?
Why - would you not want to preserve, sustain, and promote models of that kind of excellence wherever you find them?
Why - if you truly want to foster within the children of this province a love for this planet and its natural wonder and beauty, would you remove a learning habitat extraordinarily rich in the wonders of farmland, woodland and seashore?
Why - if you truly desire to preserve, to celebrate and to enhance the cultural heritage of our unique province - why would you destroy the central infrastructure that embodies, facilitates, and showcases that heritage within a community that has long shone forth its profound awareness of exactly that heritage?
Why - if you seek to promote visitation to the Island, would you gut the very kind of community that those visitors grow increasingly anxious to see as they come from a world that daily overheats, overcrowds, and overrates material gain?
Finally - why - if you claim economic desperation as reason for rationalizing education infrastructure - why would you now choose to make the children of this community pay for the (highly?) questionable spending choices of former governments of this province?
Mr. Premier, for the life of me, I cannot see the semblance of a reasonable answer to any of these questions.
-- Michael Edward is a retired teacher, vice-principal, and principal at Belfast Consolidated School
The Right Honourable Paul Martin was Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006, and has spent the last decade speaking out about issues still dear to him: Aboriginal dignity and education, the people and environment of Africa, and the state of the world's oceans.
More at: http://www.paulmartin.ca/
He wrote the February 15th Global Chorus essay:
Despite the plethora of international institutions, incredibly there is no global body responsible for ensuring national co-operation in protecting the health of the high seas, yet they represent over 50 per cent of the Earth’s surface.
The costs of this gap to society are inestimable. Collapsed fish stocks are putting food security for an eventual world population of nine billion at risk. The UN’s climate change assessment panel has reported that the oceans are absorbing more than 90 per cent of the heat trapped in the climate system by humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases. The ocean is also absorbing a quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions, which is causing seawater to acidify at
a rate unprecedented in 300 million years, causing a staggering loss of biodiversity. These are only a few examples of what is happening each day in the waters beyond our national scope.
Four years ago the Financial Stability Board was created to deal with among other things the consequences of the international banking crisis. The crisis that will surely face us all unless we act to deal with the degradation of the oceans demands no less.
A global body ensuring the health of the oceans, if properly structured, would not only do much to ensure the health of our economies, it would also ensure the health of humanity.
— Paul Martin
February 14, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
MP (Saanich-Gulf Islands) and Green Party leader Elizabeth May worked hard to give the Liberal government an opportunity to move forward with electoral reform as recorded in this footage from a couple of days ago in Parliament. She describes what she heard going across the country and her ideas to make this work in the first couple of minutes and the last; the middle part is the same speech we have heard from the Prime Minister by Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary.
Because it was a storm day, you can find things like this: an analysis of yesterday's Trump-Trudeau handshake. Justin Trudeau may be retreating from some huge campaign promises, but he did not retreat from the aggressive arm-yanking the U.S. president has been giving other world leaders. Here's the play-by-play:
The last lines are the funniest.
More storm day musings:
From the VisionPEI Facebook page, February 13th, 2017:
I HAD A DREAM by Gerry Hopkirk
I experienced a beautiful vision the other night. I dreamed that five liberal MLA’s crossed the floor in the next Legislative Assembly, joined the opposition as independents and brought down the government. Then all opposition members formed a coalition government with Peter Bevan Baker as leader/premier and over the next two years did the following:
1. Voted to hold the next provincial election using a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) format;
2. Kept small schools open and encouraged flexibility in teaching and learning in all schools;
3. Negotiated land rights, peacefully and honestly, with First Nations people and their leaders;
4. Made public all documents related to PNP, e-gaming, government loans given and forgiven and published details of all government contracts let in the past 10 years;
5. Stopped using tax dollars for loans to rich people and corporations;
6. Sought federal support to have PEI pilot a Guaranteed Adequate Income system;
7. Outlawed deep water wells; and
8. Consulted with Islanders before reports and plans were drafted.
Unfortunately, I woke up, heard and read the news, and my dream was replaced with our current political nightmare.
On Valentine's Day, you want to celebrate a group working with all its heart to protect the Island, Don't Frack PEI:
The draft of the new PEI Water Act is due to be released any time soon. Don’t Frack PEI expects a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to be included in the act due to the overwhelming number of groups and individuals who called for a ban during the consultations. A ban on fracking is called for by many groups in the Public Consultation Report http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/CLE_EAC_WARep.pdf. At the Environmental Forum before the election, the Premier stated that “a moratorium may come through the Water Act process”.
Don’t Frack PEI intends to see that a ban becomes part of the Act. In other news, MLA Brad Trivers will propose a Motion Calling For a Moratorium on Fracking in the Spring sitting of the legislature.
So fracking is going to be very much back in the spotlight this spring. Don’t Frack PEI has incurred some expenses to keep the website running, rent a mailbox, host meetings, pay presenters, and produce t-shirts, hats and literature. Unfortunately our donations haven’t kept up with the expenses, for instance a website and e-mail hosting bill of $289 has come out of the pockets of the committee. Please consider making a donation to help with these costs – and you can make it using PayPal or a Credit Card on our website – it’s perfectly secure. Just click the green button on the home page.
Thank you for your support on this important issue.
Don’t Frack PEI Steering Committee.
Ashish Ramgobin, the great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, at the time of writing this Global Chorus essay back in 2014, was the founder and executive director of the Participative Development Initiative at the International Center of Non-violence (ICON) in South Africa.
Hope, in my opinion, is based on the desire and conviction a person has. My instinctive response to the global situation is, “Where have all the people gone?” We have become so driven by concepts, philosophies, methods and practices that the people quotient of our lives and world has slowly begun to disappear.
I have hope for the world because I believe that at the core of every human being and creature there is the instinct to survive. My approach to such survival is to work with a few people at a time, facilitating spiritual, human and sustainable growth, dealing with issues of greed, abundance and the need for more – and then jointly building a compassionate group, which will grow slowly into a compassionate society, and thereafter, with enough players, into a compassionate world. Dealing with large concepts like sustainable development, global poverty, disease, illiteracy etc., are tasks that depersonalize the
issues we face; we learn best from example, and in living our compassion we teach it also. All that the world needs to overcome the current destabilization is compassion and the will of people to change their own lives. The changes we need in industry and in government can only come from the pressure of those they depend on – their market and their electorate. That means each of us.
My philosophy for changing anything that seems to be wrong or bad is to first look within and set an example for change. Our actions resonate with the conscience and heart of people and our words resonate with their minds; it is the heart and conscience that drive true, lasting change from within. I work toward touching the hearts and consciences of all people and toward hopefully creating a group of compassionate people who will over time evolve into a community and a world of compassionate people as they touch others’ lives.
— Ashish Ramgobin
February 13, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight (weather permitting -- the Event Details will have info if postponed):
Panel Discussion:Build A Better Home: Stratford, 7-8:30PM, Stratford Town Hall. Free and apparently open to everyone.
"efficiency PEI and the Town of Stratford will host the second ‘Build a Better Home’: panel discussion and Q&A! This panel (a follow up to "Build a Better Home - Charlottetown) will focusing on passive house design, sustainable subdivision design and how our homes can help us conserve energy, reduce our environmental impact and save money." <snip> "
Pre-registration for this free event can be done online at:
Today there will be a lot of news coverage on Justin Trudeau's trip to the United States.
Here is some useful advice from Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians:
LETTER: PM must stand up to President Trump - The guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Saturday, February 11th, 2017
As Prime Minister Trudeau heads to Washington for closed-door meetings Monday with U.S. President Donald Trump, the Council of Canadians and thousands of its supporters are urging the Prime Minister not to pursue a backroom deal on NAFTA.
We want the process to be fair and transparent and include full consultation with the public, civil society and Indigenous peoples.
The Council of Canadians is also calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that any NAFTA renegotiations include the following:
* Eliminate Chapter 11, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS)
process that allows foreign corporations to sue governments over future
* Protect water from export by removing all references to water as a
* Eliminate NAFTA’s energy proportionality rule, which forces a
proportion of Canadian energy to be exported to the U.S., locking Canada
into continued tar sands production.
* Prioritize good jobs, democracy and the environment.
* Include full public consultations.
Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians says, “For years, we have seen the ravages of NAFTA. It’s time to put an end to the Chapter 11 corporate lawsuits that have cost Canada millions of dollars, eroded our environmental and public policy, hollowed out manufacturing towns and put hundreds of thousands of people out of work, and created greater inequality in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.”
We are urging Prime Minister Trudeau to stand up to President Trump's dangerous agenda and seek an agreement that benefits people and the environment.
Council of Canadians,
Rob Hopkins, who co-founded The Transition Network as is one of their "catalyst and outreach" people, in addition to being the website editor. He does public speaking and is the author of the book The Power of Just Doing Stuff.
The Transition Network has a huge amount of content, great for a storm day.
Here is his essay for the February 13th entry in Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, edited by Todd E. MacLean:
I regard myself not as a techno-optimist, but as a cultural optimist. I believe that people can do remarkable things when they choose. I have seen time and time again the extraordinary things people can do when they get together with the people around them and decide that they want to start putting in place the future they desire. Whether it’s community currencies, locally owned energy companies, new local food enterprises, neighbours helping neighbours to reduce energy consumption, or communities becoming their own developers, it’s the missing piece of the puzzle.
The climate crisis is so grave that the solutions proposed need to involve a deep rethink of the scale on which we do things. A decarbonized future will inherently be more local and focused more on resilience and well-being than on economic growth. While government has a key role to play in this, there is much we can do to model in practice not only that such an approach works but that it meets our needs better than business as usual does. Our task is, through our deliberate and compassionate
action, to make the politically impossible become the politically inevitable.
Creating the conditions for our survival requires the creation of a new economy, from the bottom up. All over the world, people are coming together to create the new enterprises that local economies need. They are looking strategically at how the boosting of local economies could be to the benefit of everyone, and at how community resilience is itself a form of economic development – indeed, how it is the most appropriate form of development for today. They are creating the new economies we will need and having the time of their lives in doing so.
Do we have hope? Hope doesn’t mean much to me, really. It’s about doing what is the right thing to do in these times, with a good heart. We can’t do more than that. But Transition feels to me to be the most skilful thing to be doing now, and so that’s where I put my energy, with the knowledge that extraordinary things are always possible and are already happening.
— Rob Hopkins
An interesting article from The Transition Network, by Richard Heinberg, "On America First" from February 6th might be an especially good read today.
February 12, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
"Location of Vinland?" talk by archaeologist Birgitta Wallace, 7:30PM, Benevolent Irish Society Hall, free-will donation.
(See full description at end of the newsletter)
From The Guardian on-line yesterday,with a few slight inaccuracies, but good to see the coverage:
Summerside volunteers ask people to sign petition on electoral reform - The Guardian online article by Desiree Anstey
More than 100,000 people sign petition to pressure federal government to keep promise
Published on Saturday, February 11th, 2017
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Volunteers were kept on their heels at Summerside’s Farmers Market Saturday as they handed out flyers and urged Islanders to sign a petition, which currently has 104, 891 signatures, to ask the federal government to keep its promise on a proportional voting system.The demonstration, which was planned by the grassroots organization, National Day of Action, comes after Justin Trudeau’s Liberals announced they will not be following through on their promise to replace the current first-past-the-post electoral system.
Volunteer Trish Altass, who is connected to the Fair Vote Canada organisation, said the group will continue to push for change. “It was a clear promise Justin Trudeau made again and again,” said Altass, while handing out flyers and asking Islanders to contact their MPs to voice their opinion on the issue. “So for him to just break that promise is unacceptable and Canadian citizens should hold him accountable.”
P.E.I. recently had the plebiscite on electoral reform where mixed member proportional representation was the most popular option by receiving more than half the votes. “I think in P.E.I. people are very aware of the issue around electoral reform and there is great support,” said Altass. “More and more people are becoming aware of the possibility of what our government could look like with a more diverse representation, and with having everybody’s vote count.”
More than 80 leaflets were given to Islanders within the hour by Altass and Green Party deputy leader Lynne Lund. Lund said Justin Trudeau identified that we need to make every vote count, and that we need equity between provinces and individuals. “I think the important thing is for people to have an opportunity to exercise their democratic right to petition. Will it change the prime minister’s mind, it’s hard to say, but he needs to know that Canadians are paying attention,” said Lund.
There were also volunteers at the Charlottetown's Farmers' Market.
A recent letter to the editor:
Old-line parties cling to power - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Our present premier allowed us a chance to state our views on electoral reform. You all know that was scrapped and we heard alternative facts.
Now the Prime Minister is stating alternative facts why he is done with electoral reform. We all know the two old-line parties will lose their control of power if reform allows us to vote in any MMP election format.
Charles Clarkson, Charlottetown
A couple of days ago, with some fanfare Maritime Electric announced that the New Glasgow substation permit had been approved. This had been contentious since the first site proposed would have gone down a fairly populated beautiful scenic road in the Millvale area. Residents spent quantities of time organizing and voicing their concerns, which led to Maritime Electric offering a committee to meet and work on solutions that this community would be OK with. The committee met several times, and finally decided on a plan. It's going on a different route, along the Bagnall Road, much to the relief of the Millvale residents.
But as District 19 Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers (the local MLA who was very involved in the issue since the beginning) wrote in his blog:
Of course, the reason that Maritime Electric and the community were put in this situation, is because the regulations need to be improved to ensure that communities are effectively engaged regarding the planning and implementation of large infrastructure projects. Also the PEI Energy Strategy needs to be released as soon as possible, and the government needs to ensure that entities like Maritime Electric adhere to it.
Some further thoughts on causes/alternatives: yes, the soft and squishy environmental impact assessment process doesn't really take community into account . The Land Use Policy Task Force mentioned viewscapes as something worth protecting, but that hasn't been acted on. Maritime Electric could have tried some major energy conservation projects in the area to put off at least temporarily having to do this project. And we should be rating the need for these huge projects when they will be destructive to our dwindling natural resources and beauty. And we also need to rank infrastructure projects of all kinds, which is something I believe Mr. Trivers and others have been promoting for some time.
Today's Global Chorus is written by Bryan Welch, who was the founder and director of Ogden Publishers, which produces Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, and Community Chickens, and has now moved on to "B The Change, a multi-platform media company focused on business as a force for good in the world." He lives with his wife Carolyn near Lawrence, Kansas, and raises heritage breed animals. More about him:
The question of our survival is uninteresting and uninspiring. Human survival is, from the human perspective, imperative. That’s not an aspiration. That’s just instinct. Our instinct for self-preservation may support the exploitation of resources and the deterioration of our habitat. It seems likely we could survive for millennia, but under what conditions?
Future human generations can live in ways that are more satisfying, healthier, more prosperous, fairer, more beautiful and more abundant. We can create a natural environment that’s healthier, more diverse and more verdant than the Earth today. To realize that potential, however, we must first visualize our aspirations. We need a concrete collective vision of a better world.
I imagine a world where biological diversity is considered a fundamental asset, where an abundance of species is valued above all other
ecological values and where we preserve vast swaths of natural habitat to guarantee the plenitude of life. Commerce can be motivated by social justice and environmental preservation as well as by simple value for money. Universal human tolerance can become a fundamental component of civilization. Violence, slavery and human exploitation may be universally vilified.
We’ve already made significant progress toward these goals. So far, we’ve done a pretty good job of realizing our ideals in the world. We are less violent, more tolerant and more conscientious as a species than ever before.
With that in mind, it seems more important than ever before that we have great aspirations and the courage to describe them. That is, I think, the foundation of sustainability – for the planet and its human citizens.
— Bryan Welch
February 11, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Both Farmers' Markets (Summerside 9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) are open today, and both will have volunteers handing out leaflets with info about how to voice your concerns about electoral reform weaseling (perhaps there are other words), both federal and provincial. You can help out if you have some bits of time, or maybe bring anyone a warm drink.
Regarding Proportional Representation, the Prime Minister has made the transit from courageous Sunny Ways to Fear-Mongering, something we mightily criticized the former Prime Minister for when he was hanging on to power. Trudeau almost angrily berated an apparent PR supporter about PR letting in fringe parties, and seemed to acknowledge that once nobody else thought Ranked Ballot the best choice, he kind of lost his desire to move forward on electoral reform. A bit of deja vu with what happened this Fall in P.E.I.
Here is a list of Myths about Proportional Representation from this document at Lead Now's site.
You can call or e-mail your MP, and sign the Electoral Reform petition that MP Nathan Cullen has started.
Screenshots of front and back of leaflets to be handed out today at the Farmers' Markets.
Upcoming event this week:
Thursday, February 16th:
Environmental Coalition of P.E.I. Annual General Meeting, 6:30PM, Haviland Club. After a half hour business meeting, a panel will speak on the Water Act draft, which should be hot of the press!
On a day when many people will be stocking up on food, it's nice that the February 11th Global Chorus essay is done by Joel Salatin, the (very opinionated) Virginia farmer and zealous promoter of small, diversified farming; the farming is based on having good soil and good grass to start feeding everything else. His home website is here: http://www.polyfacefarms.com/
While civilization has never tried nor thought itself more able to sever its ecological umbilical cord, never before have we had the capacity to reattach it as quickly. As a beyond-organic farmer, I believe the techno-gadgetry that is available today to massage the ecology into dramatic healing is almost miraculous. From computer microchipped solar-electric fence energizers to shuttle-shift, low-profile diesel tractors with front-end loaders, ecology-enhancing food production infrastructure and techniques would make grandpa speechless with amazement.
The local-food tsunami represents a profound culture shift as people rediscover truly community-based food systems and the delight of cultivating domestic culinary arts. The only way to thwart this movement is to continue taxing people to death so families have difficulty staying home to redirect their creativity toward building a secure home economy. In addition to taxes, the food police are systematically marginalizing, criminalizing and demonizing heritage-based production and processing systems.
When Coca-Cola, Twinkies and Froot Loops are considered safe while raw milk, Aunt Matilda’s homemade pickles, and compost-grown tomatoes are labelled unsafe by the government food police, the civilization is on a collision course with its ecological umbilical cord. When the freedom of choice movement extends beyond marriage, sexual orientation and education to include food, we will unleash the entrepreneurial creativity of thousands in their kitchens and on acreages. The impediment to redirecting our U.S. ship of state is not technology, resources, people, money or spirit. The impediment is confiscatory taxes to pay for big government to extend concessions and welfare to the largest corporate players – many with evil agendas – in our world. As each of us refuses to patronize evil systems, we inevitably create healing: of soil, nutrition, finances, emotion. We can do this.
— Joel Salatin
February 10, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Morell Family of Schools public meeting on the school review has been rescheduled for Monday, February 27th.
The International Development Week panel discussion was supposed to be last night and is postponed until further notice.
I assume the second annual Don Mazer 2017 Arts and Science Lecture by Dr. Catherine Morley, (film-maker, textile artist, and professor at Acadia University) has been postponed from last night, also. More info: http://www.upei.ca/communications/news/2017/01/upei-2017-arts-and-science-lecture
By Saturday, February 11th, snow should be cleared enough for the Farmers' Markets to be open, and at Charlottetown, Islanders working for Electoral Reform with organizations like FairVote Canada will be passing out flyers urging people to contact their MPs and the Prime Minister about his February 1st announcement not to pursue electoral system change for the next election. Quick, easy ways you can remind them of this broken promise.
Janet Payne, a mother in the Kinkora area, has been a pivotal organizer for those opposed to the School Review process. She writes in Thursday's paper:
JANET PAYNE: Using council as a smokescreen - The Guardian Opinion piece by Janet Payne
A strong voice for Island parents? We have no elected chair nor do we help to determine agenda items
Published on Thursday, February 9th, 2017
Minister Doug Currie reassures us all that members of the District Advisory Committees are a strong voice for Islanders. Well, Mr. Minister, this has not been my experience as a DAC member.
I am part of the problem if the minister is able to use our council as a smokescreen for real community and parental representation. We have no power. We don’t represent an electorate. We have no elected chair nor do we help to determine agenda items even though this was promised within the guidelines.
Instead, we have received information from the Public Schools Branch (PSB) on the new bureaucratic model, we have been given academic journal articles on ‘21st Century Learning’ with the goal of answering broad questions predetermined by the PSB, and we have been briefed on the Baragar data and the recommendations 30 minutes before each of the last public meetings.
It has become obvious to me that we are part of the school change process, itself, and help meet government’s need for perceived collaboration.
I would be incorrect to say that we have never been asked to provide feedback, as this was done at the initial meeting as well as at one subsequent meeting held with Minister Currie and Deputy Minister Willis. This was prior to the start of the school review process and many around the table identified issues that are minor in comparison to school closures and reconfiguration.
Asking for feedback without sharing the real context of what is happening within our education system was unfair and underhanded. Don’t insult us by saying that we have a voice.
Many parents on the DACs signed up with the excitement and good intentions of helping to shape education. Home and school presidents, high achieving students, and teachers volunteered because they believed that this new model would lead to better learning for all. If the minister wished to improve our system in a meaningful way, would it not have also been necessary to include the opinions of those less engaged within our system? Where is their voice?
Our premier has been very strategic, indeed, with the creation of these three councils. The Principal’s Council is comprised of staff of the PSB. The Learning Partners Advisory Council is co-chaired by our premier and includes many individuals who are either employed by government, connected to organizations reliant on government funding, or have a vested interest in pre-election promises. Does this take away from their credibility? No. Does this make it more difficult for them to disagree with our premier’s agenda? Absolutely.
The tides are turning. Islanders have caught on to this undemocratic approach and refuse to be controlled. This school review process must stop and we need elected school board trustees now. Smaller schools must be celebrated, the hub-school model must be explored, and the centralization of our education system needs to stop.
You haven’t given us a voice on the DAC’s, Mr. Currie, but we will certainly find our own.
- Janet Payne M.Ed., is a Kinkora mother of seven, a Kinkora Regional High School parent representative and a DAC member
Tessa Tennant, a "sustainable finance pioneer" who was involved in the "COP21" climate talks, is project initiator of "Our Voices, the global faith and spiritual climate action network." global faith & spiritual climate action network - See more at: http://ourvoices.net/index.html#sthash.osS45WxP.dp
She writes the February 10th essay from Global Chorus: 365 Voices for the Future of the Planet, edited by Todd E. MacLean and reprinted daily this year in this newsletter with his permission. Unfortunately, when she wrote this in late 2013, no one really thought about the reality of the "bonkers tyrant hitting the nuclear button"; but we will persevere.
Have you ever played that team-building game where everyone is invited to write down the meaning of a simple word like “money” or “family” or “life”? The point of the game is to illustrate the diversity of ways in which people think and associate with ideas. Our personal mental maps are all so different, like our thumbprints, and it’s a wonder and a puzzle that human beings have achieved so much collectively. Against all the odds of confusion, ignorance, fear and greed we still make mostly good things happen.
This gives me great hope. In my lifetime ecological living has moved from the hippiesphere to the high street and is having ever more sway in the corridors of power. Yes, 9/11 and the credit crunch have been big setbacks but they haven’t stopped this march of progress. Apart from an asteroid hitting the Earth or some bonkers tyrant hitting the nuclear button, nothing will.
Somehow we will muddle through. We won’t be like the cooking frog: we aren’t falling asleep as the water gets warmer; we are scrambling to get out of the pot and turn off the gas. Indeed more of us are scrambling every day and a bunch of us have even got as far as figuring out the gas controls!
We must reject the dead hand of fatalism, which never got humans anywhere. There is hope, as the prophets always say; “live for the moment” and enjoy being part of the green revolution. The best is yet to come.
— Tessa Tennant
February 9, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
With the weather tonight, the Westile Family of Schools public meeting may be postponed.
Thursday, February 9, 10AM:
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment, 10AM, J. Angus MacLean Building
Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on the PEI Human Rights Commission from John Rogers, Chair, and Brenda Picard, Q.C., Executive Director.
Thursday, February 9th, 2PM-4PM:
Prebudget consultation, Summerside. For location, call (902) 368-5501.
Thursday, February 9th, 7PM:
Westile Family of Schools Public Meeting, 7PM, Westile Composite High School gymnasium
This opinion piece broke my heart to read. Yet, this experience may also galvanize her generation to push harder for democratic reforms.
During the P.E.I. electoral plebiscite this Fall, Taya Nabuurs was one of the bright, friendly ElectionsPEI outreach persons.
OPINION: Feeling betrayed by Prime Minister Trudeau - The Guardian Opinion piece by Taya Nabuurs
I voted for a leader who promised that the 2015 election would be the last under First-Past-the-Post
Published on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Like many Canadians today, I am feeling betrayed. I am not usually one to disclose my voting record. Politically, I generally prefer to keep my cards close to my chest. But after the disheartening events of last week, I feel the need to speak out.
In the 2015 federal election, I voted for the Liberal Party and for their leader Justin Trudeau. I voted for a leader I believed was different. I voted against negative politics and against politicians who put themselves and their parties at a higher priority than the public good. I voted for a leader who promised that the 2015 election would be the last under First-Past-the-Post and a leader I honestly believed would put the health of our democracy first when working to keep that promise.
Today, I feel silly for thinking that a party which benefits so greatly from our flawed electoral system would put aside its own selfishness in order to keep that promise. Today, I am feeling embarrassed for believing in that party as wholeheartedly as I did. Today, I am feeling betrayed.
Last Wednesday, the Trudeau government announced it was abandoning electoral reform. One could only hope that at the very least, this extreme disappointment would be met with sound justification. Instead, the only explanation given was that there was no consensus on electoral reform.
I’m confused by this explanation, Mr. Prime Minister. I understood that there was a certain degree of consensus when the electoral reform committee proposed a referendum on a system of proportional representation. So do you mean to say that there is no consensus amongst the public? I should think that discerning whether or not there is consensus amongst the public is rather difficult when a clear question is not put forward.
Did you expect to find consensus amongst the responses of approximately two per cent of the Canadian population from a survey, which at no point asked Canadians direct questions about whether or not they supported electoral reform or whether or not they would care to have a referendum on the topic?
When trying to justify your excuses, do not put the blame on the public, Mr. Trudeau. Electoral reform is a complicated topic, it’s true. Engaging the public on this issue is very difficult because people feel confused about the many options and the possible implications of those options. That is why it is your job to use all of the tools, resources, and experts at your disposal to research these options and present the best ones. Not the best ones for your party, but the best ones for our democracy. We expect our government to govern Mr. Trudeau, and we trust you to do so honestly. That is why I, and many other Canadians along with me, voted for you.
Possibly the saddest outcome of this disappointment will be the political disengagement this country will suffer as a result. We already have such dismal voter turnout, and going back on elections promises does nothing to help that.
Saying whatever it takes to get elected and then going back on those words once in power is one of the most despicable acts of political dishonesty and only leads to a great distrust of our elected officials. It is one of the many reasons people feel that their votes don’t matter, and it is something that governments should be trying to avoid at all costs.
We need to work towards a democracy where people are excited to get out and vote because they feel like they have a say; a democracy where people feel that they can trust their representatives. No one should ever be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed for wholeheartedly believing in the promises made by the party they voted for. I can assure you, Mr. Prime Minister, it is an ugly emotion.
I don’t want to lose the trust and optimism I had when I walked into that voting booth on Oct. 19, 2015. I will try my best to hold onto it, because as a 21-year-old, I have many years ahead in my life as a politically engaged citizen. But the sense of betrayal and cynicism I am enduring is awfully hard to swallow. Fool me once, Mr. Prime Minister, but you had better not fool me again.
Today, I am feeling betrayed.
- Taya Nabuurs of Stratford is a third year Political Science student at the University of Prince Edward Island
An opinion from Maclean's magazine:
Why the electoral reform sham will breed cynicism - Macleans magazine article by Scott Baker and Mark Dance
The Liberals drew in Millennial voters with a promise to change the way Canadians vote. They’ve now kicked those voters to the curb.
Published on-line on Monday, February 6th, 2017
By killing electoral reform, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has damaged more than just Canada’s prospects for releasing itself from the clutches of moribund first-past-the-post elections. He has cut down the democratic aspirations of hundreds of thousands of young Canadians, tacitly teaching them to expect less from government and dream smaller political dreams.
Let’s give the Liberals the benefit of the doubt, shall we? Let’s assume that the now-infamous promise to make 2015 the last first-past-the-post election was made sincerely, and not in a hastily calculated bid to peel off progressive voters from Tom Mulcair’s NDP. Let’s assume that rookie MPs and ministers were selected to lead on the file not to control the process from the Prime Minister’s Office, but rather to usher in genuine generational change. Though it might strain credulity, let’s even assume that the Prime Minister’s chief advisor did not intend to spike the file, but merely fumbled it—despite having been on hand for a similar binning of electoral reform while he was working for the Ontario Liberals at Queen’s Park.>> snip
<<read rest of article at the link, above>
And a reminder:
You can sign the electronic petition for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to move forward with electoral reform, to be presented by by Nathan Cullen, MP who was on the Electoral Reform committee, here:
Peter Denton is a writer, teacher, author of Gift Ecology: Reimagining a Sustainable World and the recent Live Close to Home.
He blogs here. Here is his essay for the February 9th Global Chorus.
Hope is a creative act. It is creative because it generates something new out of the daily chaos of our lives. It is an act because, through hope, the possibility of a different future is created. We can work and dream toward what is possible, but only if hope leads the way.
Every day for me begins with a glimmer of hope, as I look out my window and the sun rises on the oak trees. On the prairies, only the odd tree breaks the horizon, along with the windbreaks that mark the location of lonely barns and farmhouses.
The slow-growing prairie oak, the scrub oak, makes a poor shelter from the wind, however. Decades pass before a difference in size is apparent, while the spruce and pine explode into the sky and the poplars grow, spread and rise again.
The scrub oak has none of the beauty of its foreign cousins, the red and white oaks. It will never be sawn into planks for shipbuilding, turned into beautiful flooring or sturdy furniture. It is gnarled and stunted, never growing more than a few feet before twisting off in a new direction and frustrating any craftsman’s intention.
Yet, through centuries of harsh winters and scorching summers, rain and drought, wind and storm, it survives. The trees in my yard are hundreds of years old, predating any European settlers, watching over my children playing as they watched over the buffalo grazing the prairie grass another world away.
I find my hope in that resilience, symbolized for me by the scrub oak but found at all levels of life on Earth, whether we can see them or not.
Hope is just as resilient in the human heart as the impulse to survive is resilient in living systems. That resilience does not excuse us from doing things that deny hope any more than it excuses us from actions that destroy life.
When the spirit that is in us aligns with the spirit found deep within the Earth, green will no longer be just a colour.
— Peter Denton
February 8, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today (unless weather postpones; then check websites or Twitter):
Wednesday, February 8th, 10AM:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM, Angus MacLean Building
"The committee will continue its review of the Auditor General’s report entitled Special Assignment: Government Involvement with the E-gaming Initiative and Financial Services Platform. Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance."
Wednesday, February 8th, 7PM:
Morell Family of Schools Public Meeting on School Review, 7PM, Morell High School
Leah-Jane Hayward really speaks truth to power:
Mighty options for P.E.I. premier - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017, in The Guardian
I see the premier has re-branded the Island. Shortly after being elected, he named the Island, ‘The Food Island.’
Perhaps he realized how wrong this was, as many children went to school hungry and went to bed hungry each and every day.
The new brand is, ‘The Mighty Island.’ This is a much better brand. During the campaign of 2015, Mr. MacLauchlan was really saying, “I might have an honest, open and transparent government, I might open the books so those who benefited from PNP will be held to account, I might allow a review into the e-gaming fiasco, I might have elected school trustees in 2016, I might not close schools, I might ensure Islanders their monies will be spent with their best interest at heart, I might invest in programs to help young Islanders find employment, I might do more to support seniors, I might, might, might. might….
Leah-Jane Hayward, North Wiltshire
It sounds like there was quite a large crowd at last night's School Review meeting in Montague.
It takes a lot of organization and energy to get a simple message to government.
Former teacher and (Unit 3) School Board superintendent Sterling Stratton (who is also a fantastic Pen and Ink artist) was interviewed on CBC Radio yesterday, where he describes that he know regrets that he sanctioned the closing of small schools in the 1970s; a summary article is here.
He wrote this opinion piece in yesterday's Guardian:
STERLING STRATTON: The need for elected trustees - The Guardian Opinion piece by Sterling Stratton
Which is best suited to represent parents: School boards or provincial centralization?
Published on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
For all the reasons stated by parents and teachers at recent meetings, schools should not be closed.
The schools in question provide a valuable service in the communities in which they are located. It has become obvious that the Department of Education/Public School Branch simply counted rooms, square footage, etc. rather than evaluating the quality of education in each location.
As a retired educator, I believe that elected school trustees would not have created such a negative atmosphere and would not have recommended the closure of the schools. The confrontational approach applied by the provincial central authority has convinced some parents that the question of two English school boards should be reconsidered. In fact the most recent public report on education stated that two English school boards should exist in the province. The following chart provides a comparison of the two types of school administration:
Locally-elected school trustees
(Two school boards)
- Iconic educational institutions since 1850's
- No provincial political involvement
- Communication lines with parents - simple
- School based in-service training
- Superintendent selected by trustees
- Staffing through competition
- Student based school testing
- Time on task - very high
- Parental input - real power re: school board
- Programs based on students’ needs
Provincial government centralization
(Dept. of Ed./School Branch)
- Created by an unilateral government declaration
- Ingrained provincial politics
- Communication lines with parents - complicated
- Provincially based in-service training
- Leadership under government control
- Staffing - mixed methods
- International and provincial common testing
- Time on task - great variations
- Public input limited to advisory status groups
- Programs based on consultants’ recommendations
When the establishment of school boards is discussed, government officials lament that the election of trustees in the past has been hampered by low voter turnout. A new approach connected to the families of schools has been recommended; it is unique with high voter turnout and wide geographic representation across the province.
The question arises - who is best suited to represent parents with regard to the school system - locally elected school trustees or the provincial government’s centralization plan?
- Sterling Stratton is a retired educator/artist
Education Minister responded to calls for reinstituting parental input via elected school boards by reciting the numbers of individuals involved in the Public Schools Branch's councils (which could still be in place with elected school boards, of course), and the lack of candidates and voter engagement. Sometimes it takes a near-crisis in an organization for ordinary people to realize their role in the day-to-day work and the fate of the overall institution. I suspect there would be many candidates coming forward if we went back to school trustees, especially if the boards were reorganized by families of schools (an idea proposed by many, in parent Darcie Lanthier, and Sterling Stratton in the article above).
The February 8th Global Chorus essay is by Richard A. Muller, who is professor of physics at University of California, Berkeley, and co-founder of the organization Berkeley Earth http://berkeleyearth.org/ (worth going to regularly, I think)
Global warming is real, human-caused and dangerous. Yet I believe that humans will not only survive but thrive. My optimism derives from three paradoxical phenomena: the growth of the world population, our terrible waste of energy and our apparently unlimited resources of natural gas.
Human population: The rate of growth is dramatically slowing, and demographers believe it will likely limit itself to nine billion, for the happiest of reasons: liberation of women, improved standard of living, better education and high childhood survival.
Waste of energy: I’m optimistic because there is so much room for improvement. Energy efficiency has increased at 1 per cent to 6 per cent per year for many decades and can continue at such rates for another 100 years. Combined with the population limit, the math shows that by 2100 the globe (including India and Africa) can share the current European standard of living and do it at lower total energy per year than now.
Huge resources of natural gas: Thanks to these reserves we can drastically slow our use of coal. Natural gas produces one-third to one-half the carbon dioxide for the same electric energy produced. Projections show that most of the feared global warming will come from the coal growth of the developing world; if we can help it shift to cleanly produced natural gas, we can slow the rate by two to three, giving us time to make even cleaner energy sources (solar, wind, nuclear) cheap enough for the poorer nations of the world to afford.
— Richard A. Muller
February 7, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tuesday, February 7th, 7PM
Montague Family of Schools Public Meeting on School Review, 7PM, Montague Regional High School
From yesterday's Guardian, a multi-part series on the basic income guarantee begins:
ANN WHEATLEY: Dignity and equality - The Guardian Opinion piece by Ann Wheatley
Basic Income Guarantee proposal draws all-party support in P.E.I. Legislature
Published on Monday, February 6th, 2017
Perhaps it was the season, or the fact that the fall sitting was drawing to a close, or because MLA’s had just grown weary of engaging in the kind of rancorous debate that had characterized the previous few weeks in the House.
Or, perhaps because it was simply because basic income guarantee is an idea whose time has come. But for whatever reason last December, members from all three parties represented in the Legislature, in a show of unity, rose to express their support for a Basic Income Guarantee (B.I.G.) pilot project for P.E.I.
Motion #83, put forward by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan Baker, called on the Legislative Assembly to “urge government to pursue a partnership with the federal government for the establishment of a universal basic income pilot project in Prince Edward Island.”
It received unanimous support, as several MLAs from each party spoke in its favour, their comments revealing their acute awareness of the extent and the impacts of poverty in P.E.I., and their desire to find a solution. As members from both sides of the House took turns endorsing the motion, it became clear that Basic Income is an idea whose time has come.
The adoption of the motion, and most especially the positive manner in which it was received, gave new hope to the community organizers who have been promoting basic income and asking for a made-in-P.E.I. pilot project for the past several years.
The idea of working with the federal government, which several of the MLAs spoke to, is of critical importance. B.I.G. would require a substantial reorganization of existing federal and provincial programs, and would in all likelihood be administered through the tax system. Community activists have been consistent in stating very clearly that a B.I.G. pilot project must be a collaborative effort among all levels of government.
As several MLAs also noted, Prince Edward Island is a perfect jurisdiction to test this idea – our size, and the fact that we are an Island with a fairly mixed economy, make it an ideal place to test BIG. At the same time, we will be watching and learning as other pilot projects roll out in Ontario and Quebec.
Several MLAs pointed out, rightly, that implementing a basic income would not negate the need for current social programs and services designed to support individuals and families. We would still need to invest in (and in fact increase our investment in) affordable, accessible childcare, public transportation and disability supports. Workers must be paid a living wage, and have access to employment insurance and adequate pensions. These are all things that are part of our social infrastructure and fundamental to the kind of healthy, inclusive and just communities we dream of.
It was especially encouraging to hear MLAs say that planning for a pilot project should not be seen as strictly a government task, rather, it should be an inclusive process, involving people from the community, people affected by poverty and their advocates. After several years of research and community engagement, the Working Group for a Livable Income is eager to continue this work with government and to participate in the design a program that works for Prince Edward Island.
In his eloquent introduction to the motion, Peter Bevan-Baker talked about how universal basic income could “enable the greatest unleashing of human potential ever seen” and allow people to be creative and to take risks, secure in the knowledge that they have a roof over their heads and enough food to meet their needs. This is in fact what is so compelling about B.I.G. – it is about dignity and equality, building communities where everyone is valued and gets to participate.
- Ann Wheatley represents Cooper Institute in the P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income
Hazel McCallion (Canadian Encyclopedia entry) was the mayor of the city of Mississauga, Ontario, from 1978 until 2014, and writes the February 7th essay in Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, edited by Todd E. MacLean
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty,” and I take this sentiment to heart and remain optimistic that humanity will find its way past the issues which plague our global society.
The world has seen tremendous changes during its existence and while it is easy to adopt a pessimistic view of the world today in these times of seeming moral ambiguity, I do believe there is an appetite for a return to more traditional morals and values and that a paradigm shift is taking place with regard to a renewed consciousness which will hopefully lead the citizens of the world to the realization that despite our differences, we as human beings are called upon to assume responsibility for stewardship in terms of the preservation
of life as we know it. It is up to each one of us to use our unique talents and gifts to find solutions to societal problems and help elevate the human condition. We also need strong leaders and visionaries to step up to the plate and lead by example, demonstrating that their actions are consistent with their professed principles; and we are fortunate to have many such individuals around the world, whose hard work and efforts in a variety of fields are making a difference every day in the lives of others.
I remain hopeful and have faith in humankind that we will do what is necessary to secure our future – not just for ourselves but for future generations – for after all, as the adage goes, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
— Hazel McCallion
February 6, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight, Monday, February 6th:
Movie: The Real Thing: A Film Screening, 7PM, UPEI campus, Business Building (McDougall Hall, Room 246)
Free, but donations accepted for Fallon Mawhinney's trip to Bolivia with WUSC (World University Service of Canada)
Other events this week:
Tuesday, February 7th, 7PM
Montague Family of Schools Public Meeting on School Review, 7PM, Montague Regional High school
Wednesday, February 8th, 10AM:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM. . Angus MacLean Building
"The committee will continue its review of the Auditor General’s report entitled Special Assignment: Government Involvement with the E-gaming Initiative and Financial Services Platform. Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance."
Wednesday, February 8th, 7PM:
Morell Family of Schools Public Meeting on School Review, 7PM, Morell High School
Thursday, February 9, 2017, 10AM:
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment, 10AM, J. Angus MacLean Building
Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on the PEI Human Rights Commission from John Rogers, Chair, and Brenda Picard, Q.C., Executive Director.
Thursday, February 9th, 2PM-4PM:
Prebudget consultation, Summerside. Not sure of location but the folks at (902) 368-5501 will know.
Thursday, February 9th, 7PM:
Westile Family of Schools Public Meeting, 7PM, Westile Composite High School gymnasium
PC MLA Brad Trivers posted on his social media page that the "Official Opposition brought several important issues forward to be examined by the committee:
- impact of schools on communities
- property taxes - understand implementation within PEI and why we see increases
- review of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (as per Motion 50 passed in legislature)
- examine Workers Compensation Board to better understand operation and related issues brought forward by Islanders
- letter to Minister asking about status of Water Act Legislation
- carbon pricing; get experts to explain British Columbia's implementation and its outcome - examine with respect to PEI
- what is being done in other jurisdictions regarding motorcycle gangs and any restrictions placed on them (e.g. wearing colours in public places)
- grants in lieu of property taxes for service clubs
- oil tank inspections and need to replace
- proposed Waste Management Facility on Baldwin Road (large crowd of concerned citizens attended Standing Committee)
- actions related to Motion 29 - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - referred to Health & Wellness Standing Committee instead
As well the committee will be doing its due diligence before recommending appointments to the PEI Human Rights Commission this May.
Good list of issues to bring up!
Thinking about tonight's movie, today's Global Chorus is by Bolivian Diego Pacheco, who was the head delegate in the Convention on Biological Diversity.
According to the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the only way forward to restore the balance of human beings with Earth is through the recognition of the existence of the “rights of Mother Earth” as a collective subject of public interest, and through taking into account that the foremost objective should be the one of Living Well. The concept of Mother Earth is completely different than Nature because Mother Earth is a living being. In turn, Living Well stems from the vision of indigenous peoples that refers to living in balance and harmony with everybody and everything – where the most important thing is not human beings, but life.
The only way to keep humanity’s hope is to launch in this century the recognition of the rights of Mother Earth at a universal scale. In other words, this century should be the time for the battle for the rights of Mother Earth.
In this regard, Bolivia has carried out a revolutionary step through enacting the “Law of Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well” (October 2012), which is oriented to move Bolivian public planning and financial resources investment toward Living Well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth.
After a tough process of negotiation at the United Nations, “Living Well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth” has been acknowledged as a holistic and integrated approach to sustainable development (UNEP/GC.27/CW/L.2/Add.3).
The next step is to recognize the universal rights of Mother Earth.
— Diego Pacheco, PhD
February 5, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Saturday was actually a pleasant day for a short walk with over a thousand Islanders up Queen Street and around to Province House.
As Gordon Cobb wrote, "Awesome to have taken part in the Solidarity march with Muslim Communities. Thanks to the thousands who did it. Minus 30 wind chill. I have never felt warmer."
Seeing many families with (bundled up) small children in their arms gives us hope.
Mark Greenan, with the Coalition for Proportional Representation, responded to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's broken promise on electoral reform on CBC Thursday:
Here is a short audio clip of an interview from Thursday morning on CBC Radio -- 6 minutes long:
and the video from Compass TV that night - starts about 48minutes in and runs to about 52minutes:
An op-ed piece reporting and analyzing what's going on here and around us:
BRENDA OSLAWSKY: We want our votes to count - The Guardian Opinion piece by Brenda Oslawsky
Failure of governments to pay attention results in increasing levels of cynicism
Printed on Saturday, February 4th, 2017
Three months ago, the P.E.I. government held a plebiscite on electoral reform, perhaps expecting that Islanders didn’t really want much change, if any at all.
They were wrong – one of the proportional options, Mixed Member Proportional, walked away the clear winner.
When parliament resumed this month, the federal government backed down from its campaign promise to change from our current electoral system to one that would ‘Make Ever Vote Count.’ This despite the fact that the federal consultations, conducted almost in tandem with the P.E.I. process, found that 88 per cent of experts – and similar numbers of the public – advocated for proportional representation.
The federal government’s online mydemocracy.ca survey had no question explicitly asking respondents if they wanted proportional representation. However, the majority of the 360,000 who took the survey supported values that could only be delivered by a proportional system.
Other jurisdictions across the country have begun electoral reform initiatives only to be surprised that Canadians are asking for meaningful change. To the dismay of those who prefer absolute power through false majorities, citizens are making it clear that they want the popular vote to be the deciding factor in who their elected politicians are.
The provincial government in New Brunswick embarked on a nearly invisible process in July of last year. Its commission is only willing to look at cosmetic changes to the electoral system – simply changing the ballot, a change that had found no support federally or on P.E.I. They say that they want to know how to elect more women to office, boost voter turnout, increase diversity of elected candidates, and engage young voters.
However, they refuse to consider adopting proportional representation (PR), which is the only system that can deliver the province’s objectives. We know from studies on electoral systems that PR elects on average eight per cent more women, tends to have higher voter turnout and is better at electing more candidates from other under-represented groups. As for those elusive young voters, in the P.E.I. plebiscite, the strongest support for a fairer voting system was amongst voters ages 18 to 24.
Opposition parties in Quebec came together in December to work on a proposal calling for the Liberal government to move forward with a proportional electoral system.
A task force for Vancouver City Council proposed adopting a proportional system for municipal elections in their January 2017, report.
This debate is not isolated to Canada. The United Kingdom saw repeated calls for PR after its last election gave the Conservatives a false majority with only 37 per cent of the popular vote.
Since 1900, when Belgium became the first country to elect its parliament with proportional representation, over 90 countries have adopted PR. The 2015 Economist Democracy Index has only three countries that use winner-take-all systems in the top 20, and they aren’t at the top of the list. Unlike giving women the right to vote, Canada won’t be at the front of the curve to adopt the gold standard of democracy. But there isn’t any reason why we have to be at the back either.
The failure of governments to pay attention to what people tell them results in increasing levels of cynicism about governments and their consultations.
Ever larger numbers of Canadians, from a wide political spectrum, want their vote to count and they want the elected legislative bodies to truly represent the people.
- Brenda Oslawsky represents Fair Vote P.E.I. on the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation and is vice president of Fair Vote Canada. She lives in Kensington.
Craig Kielburger writes the February 5th Global Chorus. Along with his brother Marc, founded Free the Children, which is now called the WE Movement (including the WE Charity and ME to We Social Enterprise). Some high schools on P.E.I. have groups and put on fundraising and awareness events.
Our world is facing enormous challenges: social injustices, debilitating poverty, environmental degradation and countless armed conflicts on every scale. We can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed, but we cannot be forgiven for inaction. We know that a single person with courage in their heart is as good as a majority. This might conjure the image of the solitary figure standing up to a parade of tanks in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. But it’s also the teen that gets his peers to wear pink clothes to school, effectively eliminating the damaging actions of a bully. Did both of these actions take courage? Of course. Did both make a real difference? You’d better believe it.
Human history is rife with unthinkable atrocities – slavery, genocide, segregation. Yet these always meet an end because individuals stand up and declare, “This is not right and I am responsible for finding a solution.” Such courage, responsibility and action gave rise to the Underground Railroad that enabled slaves in the United States to escape to freedom in Canada in the 19th century; helped General Roméo Dallaire thwart even more mass killings in Rwanda in the 1990s; and helped abolish segregation in the U.S. in the 1960s and apartheid in South Africa in 1994. And, right now, courage, responsibility and action are helping on playgrounds and in schoolyards more than you might know. Young people have always been at the forefront of social change. And today, they are ready to “be” that change. We see it in the faces of the 70,000 young people who attend We Days each year, earning admittance through their volunteer work. Single-day showcases for an entire movement, We Days are a series of signature Free the Children stadium events full of youth who come together to celebrate their volunteer accomplishments, to learn about social issues from the world’s leading humanitarians and to formulate a plan. More importantly, we see it in the actions of these young people. “Passive bystander” isn’t in their collective vocabulary. Neither are “impossible,” “unrealistic,” “never” or “hopeless.”
Children are our hope. And if generations to come are instilled with the same compassion, those world-beating challenges aren’t so overwhelming after all. Suddenly, those problems don’t really stand a chance. -- Craig Keilburger
February 4, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Silent Walk in Solidarity with Muslim Communities, 11:30AM, meeting at end of Queen Street and walking up to Province House.
Electoral Reform -- Federal:
Those wishing to renew the call to the Trudeau government to support electoral reform can sign MP Nathan Cullen's e-petition to Parliament.
Here is the enacting clause (if I have that right):
We, the undersigned, supporters of electoral reform, call upon the Government of Canada to 1. Immediately, declare its on-going commitment to ensuring the 2015 election be the last Federal Canadian election under the First Past The Post system.
2. In the coming weeks, clearly outline one or more proposals for how Canadian elections could operate once electoral reform is complete.
3. In the coming weeks, outline a firm timeline for public consultation regarding the proposals mentioned above, detailing the proposed timeline until introduction before the house of commons.
4. In the coming months, outline a proposed timeline for the introduction of an electoral reform bill before the House of Commons, detailing the proposed timeline until passage into law.
I believe it is getting a lot of people to sign. There is some information on you the Citizen to fill out, and then you have to confirm with an e-mail sent to you.
from Friday's Guardian:
Changing terms of engagement - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Friday, February 3rd, 2017
On May 11, 2016, the Premier announced his intention to eliminate corporate donations to political parties here on P.E.I.
He must have felt confident enough to turn off the corporate spigots. All the polls were supportive and the democratic renewal file seemed under control.
Eight months later he must have been feeling gun-shy. On Dec. 14 he announced that corporate donations would flow once again (with an inconsequential cap).
I don’t think this was simply party reaction to the CRA poll and its impact on the Liberal Party war chest. To me it ripples into their strategy for the upcoming referendum on electoral reform. Government can’t easily deploy sufficient resources to guarantee its preferred outcome. The Liberal Party of P.E.I. can. The usual corporate donors have a great deal invested in the status quo. If you change the system, you change the terms of engagement.
It would be unbecoming for them to be seen actively campaigning against proportional representation. If they can pony up to the Liberal Party, it can do it for them with limited oversight.
With renewed revenue stream there also should be plenty remaining to spend on the general election.
What it boils down to is the Liberal Party of P.E.I. re-directing corporate donations to achieve its preferred outcome on the referendum.
Boyd Allen, Pownal
Former president of the Natural Resource Defense Council Frances Beinecke writes the February 4th Global Chorus essay:
The future of all humankind is on a collision course with our global dependence on fossil fuels. From the Arctic Ocean to the Niger Delta, from the forests of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, we are imperilling the natural systems that support life itself. We are poisoning our land, polluting our skies and putting our oceans, forests and rivers at risk in our rapacious pursuit of oil, gas and coal. And, when we burn these fuels, the carbon pollution that’s left behind disrupts our climate and threatens us all.
We can protect our people, safeguard our families and sustain our communities, large and small, by turning away from this crippling addiction to fossil fuels. We can create a future of prosperity, security and health for a widening circle of people everywhere, by ending this cycle of degradation and harm. And we can ensure a more hopeful future for the children of the world, when we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We have seen, in our lifetime, the kind of change that is possible when people rally around a common belief that, together, we can build a more hopeful future. We can build entire new industries borne of human innovation, creativity and vision.
We can put our people back to work today in the careers of tomorrow, building the next generation of energy efficient homes, cars and workplaces. And we can lay the groundwork for human progress and change by investing in wind, solar and other sources of clean, sustainable, renewable power. We have it within us to do this, not overnight, but over time. We owe our children that much. And the time to begin is now.
February 3, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
"The pushback has come," said David Weale on behalf of Vision PEI last night at the public meeting on the Kinkora Family of Schools. "Not only with regard to consolidation in the schools, but to the neglect of rural PEI, and those things go together." The school was packed with local residents and students (past and present), plus people from all over the Island.
"You just can't make wise decisions in isolation, in sector isolation, and that's what we have with these recommendations to close school, " Weale continued. He also spoke of the fragmented decision-making process of the MacLauchlan government, with the left hand not knowing what right hand is doing or the direction the feet are going. He also pointed out the promises in the Liberal platform in 2015 not to close schools; to turn around and announce that very intention is devious.
As opposed to the factory model of education, the "Artisan model is good for children and other works of art." That small is beautiful, possible and necessary.
I wasn't able to go and relied on video footage from other social media sources. Educator Gerry Hopkirk also spoke and I will try to get a copy of his presentation.
The public has over 30 days left to comment, information on this page.
The next public meeting is Tuesday, February 7th, in Montague.
Saturday, February 4th:
Silent Walk in Solidary with Muslim Communities, 11:30AM, gathering at big 2017 numbers at end of Queen Street.
Monday, February 6th:
Movie: A Real Thing: Coca, Democracy and Rebellion in Bolivia, 7PM, MacDougall Hall, Room 246
"As part of International Development Week (Feb. 5-11, 2017), Cinema Politica Charlottetown will screen this film, in support of Fallon Mawhinney's July 2017 trip to Bolivia, with Uniterra and WUSC. THE REAL THING explores the US's declared "war on drugs" and how it has affected the people of Bolivia. The film is free to attend, but Fallon will be collecting donations to go towards her fundraising goal. There will also be a raffle basket and popcorn for sale."
Ervin Laszlo writes the February 3rd essay for Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, edited by Todd E. MacLean. He is a philosopher and educator, and proponent of the ideal of quantum consciousness.
A crisis is both a danger and an opportunity. With conscious, purposive people, it is above all an opportunity. It is the opportunity to be the first generation of a new world, and not the last generation of an old world. We can build a new world because a crisis sweeps away the useless remnants of the old and makes space for the new. The new has to be truly, fundamentally new. We cannot build a new world on an old foundation. The new world calls for new thinking because, as Einstein said, we cannot solve today’s problems with the same kind of thinking that gave rise to them. But new thinking is available and it is already here – all around us, at the leading edge of the emerging cultures. It is thinking in terms of relations and processes, of interconnection and evolution, more exactly of co-evolution. For a new world can only be evolved together, by you and by me and by every thinking and responsible woman and man on the planet.
Start thinking in these terms yourself, because you yourself need to be the “shift” that you want to see in the world – the shift that we all want to see – because we all need it, so as to allow the new world to rise, as a phoenix, from the ashes of the old. -- Ervin Laszlo
February 2, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Groundhog's Day!
You couldn't blame engaged citizens for feeling caught in some odd version of the 1993 movie Groundhog's Day, repeating the same day again and again. First provincial and now the federal governments have gone through the same masquerade dance of electoral reform, promising real change, insisting on a confusing, exacting series of steps, and then with a flourish and drop of the mask, proclaim the experience over and done. The decision is rationalized by stating unannounced criteria were not met (for example, sometime akin to bringing the broom of the wicked witch of the west).
NDP MP Nathan Cullen, vice-chair of the Electoral Reform committee which crossed the country listening to residents on this issue, said Prime Minister Trudeau had lied to Canadians. Elizabeth May, MP and Leader of the Green Party, equally shared in the sense of betrayal.
Here is a petition you can sign:
And some are suggesting calling the Prime Minister's office and relaying your opinion on this decision. (613) 992-4211
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment meets at 10AM today, J. Angus MacLean building, to "consider its work plan." Committee members include Chair Kathleen Casey, Peter Bevan-Baker, Sonny Gallant, Pat Murphy and Hal Perry, and Opposition members Sidney MacEwen and Brad Trivers.
It sounds like many parents and concerned citizens attended a public meeting on the School Review of the Charlottetown Rural and Colonel Gray families of schools.
Kinkora Family of Schools Review meeting, 7PM, Kinkora High School. This will include many speakers, including David Weale, Peter Bevan-Baker, and Gerry Hopkirk.
Publisher of The Graphic newspapers Paul MacNeill's editorial:
Premier’s missteps give rural PEI its voice - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
Published on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
Bloomfield Elementary is not a dying school. With a 227 strong student population, 60 per cent French Immersion, Bloomfield is a spirited school where parents are encouraged to drop in and the teaching staff is engaged in both the community and the education of our children.
Three years ago this community raised $100,000 in just 18 months to build a fully accessible playground that is a showcase for all students regardless of physical capacity. Not one cent of government money was used because the Department of Education refused to help.
According to number crunchers in the department, Bloomfield has a 79 per cent utilization rate, highest among the nine schools within Westisle’s Family of Schools. Student population in the region is projected to remain stable.
But despite it all, those same minions decree that Bloomfield must close. In a seemingly weighty listing of data supporting closure the bureaucracy rates as ‘fair’ the school’s ventilation system. It’s an odd conclusion given that just seven years ago the system was upgraded to state of the art, and today works like a top. Mistake or institutional bias? There have been other significant improvements in recent years, including a new roof. In short Bloomfield is the type of school, inside and out, all parents hope their children attend.
Up the road St. Louis Elementary faces the same fate. It is newer and in equally efficient condition. A long serving teacher, Paul Goguen, has built a gymnastic dynasty. It’s estimated 3,000 plus children have been a part of the Gymnos program. You can’t be a successful gymnast without a focus on nutrition, dedication and a healthy dose of teamwork. In short, Goguen instills in children the skills they need to be successful citizens, and that has a downstream positive impact on our economy and our health care system. It means nothing to Charlottetown’s education bureaucracy. They want St. Louis Elementary closed.
Here’s the rub. The proposed closures will not solve any of the significant issues impacting students but will negatively impact communities.
Closure will not offer faster access to psychologists, where wait times are an abysmal three plus years.
It will not offer better access to occupational therapy. In Charlottetown there is one therapist for four schools. In West Prince one-half position for nine schools.
It will not mean less time on busses. There are 5-year olds in West Prince who endure two 90 minute bus rides every day, a direct result of government’s decision not to replace retiring bus drivers.
It will not improve access to literacy coaches, a vital investment drastically cut back by the same bureaucracy that now wants to close schools.
It will result in 30 teaching positions being pulled from West Prince and transferred to areas of the province where overcrowding is an issue. And it will create an increased reliance on split classes.
How will any of this improve the education of our children? How will it build community? As one parent says, the Department of Education is teaching our children to leave.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan is responsible for this divisive, biased and wrong-headed process. It pits one school against another and one community against the other. But it has also poked the bear that is rural PEI.
From Tignish to East Point rural PEI is sick of being the whipping boy for bureaucrats and politicians who refuse to deal with real issues. The premier believes he is treating rural PEI fairly. He does not believe there is a rural and urban divide.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan could not be more wrong. He repeatedly points to individual business success stories, and there are many. But sectoral success alone does not build vibrant communities. Supporting Island business is a core responsibility of government, even in rural PEI. So is the provision of health care and education. You need both sectoral and community success to create the vibrancy that will attract and keep residents.
What the premier has created is a process that asks the wrong question.
If Wade MacLauchlan believes in rural PEI ask us what we need from government. Don’t lead with a fully loaded gun and say your school is going to close. Don’t promise to not close schools and then try and do just that. Don’t promise an elected school board and then appoint a three person board of directors that includes your hand-picked deputy minister. Who is Susan Willis accountable to? The public or the Minister of Education who has endorsed the closure report. If it’s the latter the next 60 day phase of public consultation is a sham.
The premier’s process creates at a minimum the perception of a conflict of interest – public or political interest – as well as placing the deputy in an untenable situation. The board also includes Harvey MacEwen, a respected former educator from West Prince as well as former politician Pat Mella, who had little care for taxpayers when as a member of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation Board of Directors she allowed salaries and expenses of bureaucrats to spiral out of control, squandering money that could have been invested in frontline education services.
How can anyone have any faith MacLauchlan’s board of directors will do anything but act on the will of the education bureaucracy? We can’t.
To its credit, West Prince will not be lulled into a regional fight pitting community against community. While the premier hides behind a fatally flawed process the rest of rural PEI is following the lead of our western neighbours. We are growing in strength.
The Liberal government ignores this tidal wave of anger at its peril. The premier must place an immediate moratorium on school closures and create a respectful dialogue with communities centering on priorities and investments including health care, education, economic development and other government services.
He must deal with the very real issue of rezoning in Charlottetown, exacerbated for eight years because his Minister of Education Doug Currie – who seems more interested in exiting politics than leading – lacked the courage to deal with it in 2008.
Successive governments have stripped away programs and services in rural areas while the bureaucracy in Charlottetown swells. We’ve endured health care cutbacks, school closures and a reduction in basic frontline services. Yet we generate the lion’s share of tax revenue.
It must stop.
There is only one good thing to come from Wade MacLauchlan’s failure to reform education and his embrace of the bureaucratic status quo – the premier has forced us to find our voice and we will be heard.
Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Chorus for February 2nd is by Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within and Buddha Standard Time: Awakening to the Inﬁnite Possibilities of Now
In recent years, and especially since 9/11, following the news tends to make me feel unhappy and even slightly depressed, if not entirely despairing. What kind of world are we greysters leaving for the younger generations, I sometimes wonder. How are we gonna solve the large-scale and seemingly intractable problems we face? We are certainly gonna lose plenty of species along the way, flora and fauna both, but this seems inevitable. Yet whenever I meet and look into the eyes of young people, I feel an irrational surge of hope and gratification. They remind of my own and friends’ earthshaking, idealistic Sixties energy and collective efforts, and I see how very capable they are of stepping outside the box for creative ideas and new solutions.
Just look at recent technological innovations which have wrought tremendous social and economic changes! Also, the younger coming generations seem to have realized that it is necessary to be doing things together in order to accomplish much of anything.
Being a realistic optimist, I know that – no matter what the doomsdayers and naysayers may say – it’s not over till the Fat Lama sings – and this fat lama ain’t done yet!
I too have my own shoulder joined with theirs, pushing on the great wheel of evolutionary consciousness. And I like to recall the ancient rabbinical wisdom from the Talmud: “To save one soul is to save the world.” The source of my own inspiration remains undimmed.
— Lama Surya Das
February 1, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Two Standing Committees meet today, at 10AM and 1:30PM:
Wednesday, February 1st:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts
J. Angus MacLean Building - Committee Room
Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on records retention policies and procedures from Hon. Doug Currie, Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture; Kathleen Eaton, Director of Libraries and Archives; and Jill MacMicken-Wilson, Provincial Archivist. The committee will also receive a briefing on email and email account deletions, closures, accessibility and retrieval from Scott Cudmore, Director of Enterprise Architecture, Information Technology Shared Services.(Members include Chair James Aylward, Opposition MLA Darlene Compton, Liberals Jordan Brown, Bush Dumville, Sonny Gallant, Chris Palmer and Hal Perry, and Third Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.)
Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development
J. Angus MacLean Building - Committee Room
Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from Hon. Heath MacDonald, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, regarding the 2008 Bell Aliant – Government of PEI high-speed internet services agreement. (Members include Chair Bush Dumville, Liberals Jordan Brown, Kathleen Casey, Sonny Gallant and Chris Palmer, Opposition MLAs Matt MacKay and Steven Myers, and Third Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.)
The public is welcome to attend any or all parts of these meetings. Other MLAs are also welcome to attend and sit at the Committee table.
Next Wednesday, Public Accounts will resume with witness Auditor General Jane MacAdam speak about the e-gaming file.
School Review Public Meeting, Charlottetown Rural and Colonel Gray Families of Schools, 7PM, Colonel Gray gym, Spring Park Road. Issues for these families include proposed closing of St. Jean Elementary, sorting out numbers at Stonepark and Birchwood and Queen Charlotte Intermediate schools, parents' concerns about the growth of Stratford and lack of plans reflecting that, and rezoning all the "catchment" areas, among other issues.
From earlier this week, with the headline modified by me to make it more accurate to the letter:
(Cutting) Cornwall Bypass Provides Solution - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Monday, January 30th, 2017
Re: $30 million repayment plan: It appears the provincial government will have to find $30 M to pay back the federal government for an HST overpayment.
The minister of finance has suggested that this will not impact on government services, but he has not yet said how he will find the amount owing or how a loss of $30M would not impact on government services.
Given the amount to be repaid, at least one solution readily comes to mind. That is the cancellation of the unnecessary $30M (or more) provincial expenditure for the Cornwall Bypass. Even if provincial finances were in great shape, and we were not already running an annual deficit and carrying a huge debt, spending $30M on an additional stretch of redundant highway would be of questionable priority.
Cancellation would reduce the additional borrowing needs of the province, the interest on which impairs the government’s ability to provide essential services. Cancellation would also eliminate the annual repair and maintenance costs of additional and unnecessary kilometres of highway. Without cancellation, these additional costs will likely be met at the expense of our existing highway system. Our highways cannot afford less maintenance.
Notwithstanding the finance minister’s comments, if the $30M repayment to the federal government requires a choice between reducing government services and adding an unnecessary highway, then the choice should be clear.
Hopefully, it is not too late to revisit a bad decision, especially in light of changed financial circumstances.
Don Carroll, Rice Point
One of the properties slated to be bought and have the proposed Cornwall Bypass run right through it is the site of the Hughes-Jones Centre, a stable and horse-riding facility that also focuses on kids at risk. Website: http://www.thehughesjonescentre.ca/
Ms. Jones blogs about the unique and frustrating experience of dealing with government who has all the cards and cares not to reveal much of anything to an affected landowner or community. Yes, this sounds very familiar to the Highway Plan B communications mess.
Blog on the Cornwall Bypass interactions:
February 1st's Global Chorus excerpt is by Charles Eisenstein, a degrowth advocate, and author of several books including The Ascent of Humanity, Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible
His website is here.
Let’s not delude ourselves: according to what we commonly understand to be realistic, the situation is hopeless. To remedy the afflictions of our planet – climate change, tree die-offs, nuclear waste, marine collapse, violence, intolerance, inequality – would require a miracle. It just isn’t realistic to expect change of the necessary magnitude any time soon.
That doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. It just means we cannot be too realistic. You see, what we take to be real, practical and possible is far too narrow. It is based on the world-story that has long carried industrial civilization, and which is quickly unravelling today.
It is a story of separation: individuals separated from each other, humanity separated from Nature, self separated from world. It casts us into an inanimate universe in which the qualities of self – intelligence, purpose, intentionality, consciousness – are the province of human beings alone. In such a world, humanity’s destiny is to triumph over the hostile or inanimate Other through the exercise of force, measurement, planning and control.
As multiple crises reveal the bankruptcy of that ambition, we are awakening to a new (and ancient) story: of interconnection, of interbeing. Therein lies a new and expanded realism. Miracles await us in the margins, in the holistic, alternative, radical, ecological, non-violent and, above all, the indigenous. Sometimes we experience the “impossible” personally. Sometimes we glimpse the future in events like Tahrir Square or Gezi Park, when without money or planning, the unthinkable becomes possible overnight.
In the new story, we know that everything in the world mirrors something in ourselves, and that therefore even the smallest actions can have vast consequences. We learn to listen to the intelligence of the world, to recognize what wants to be born, and to orient ourselves toward service to, and not control over, other beings and the planet. In that state of service, it is as if an invisible power orchestrates changes beyond our contrivance, and we find that the unrealistic people were right all along.
— Charles Eisenstein