January 2016

January 31, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some things today:

Correction: The Maritime Connections radio call-in on the Energy East pipeline is from 4PM to 5PM (not 3-4PM). Sorry about that.

The Bonshaw Ceilidhi is today and has moved to afternoons for the winter months, 2-4PM the last Sunday of the month, at the Bonshaw Hall. This ceilidh's proceeds go to the Bonshaw Hall itself.

Canadian Blood Services workers strike update:

It sounds like a good number of people attended a rally to support striking blood service workers yesterday. The workers had tried to meet with the former provincial health minister, but were never granted a meeting. Let's hope the new Health Minister will.

If you want to comment on the workers' situation, James Aylward, MLA (District 6: Stratford-Kinlock) and Opposition health critic, who has been supporting the striking workers, mentioned that Islanders interested in making comments could write through postal mail:

Dr. Graham D. Sher, Chief Executive Officer

Canadian Blood Services

1800 Alta Vista Drive

Ottawa, ON K1G 4J5

And I found this link from the CBS website page for Mr. Sher; there is a feedback choice to the right of the screen, with a comments pop-up box.


You made want to chose "Other" for the subject topic.

There are a few issues the MacLauchlan government is said to be "moving forward together", so the slogan says.

One of these is municipality restructuring, through amalgamation.

Here are some very good thoughts about it from former civil servant Allan Rankin:

The challenge is to expand and maintain a sense of place - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin

Published on Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, in The Graphic publications


The Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities wants to make it easier for local communities to expand their boundaries, amalgamate with neighboring communities and to rationalize and make more efficient the provision of local services.

Federation President Bruce MacDougall claims the status quo is not acceptable and something has to be done.

I am not so sure about that.

Municipal amalgamation is nothing new on Prince Edward Island.

In the mid 1990s both Charlottetown and Summerside expanded their municipal boundaries, taking in surrounding communities. Led by the provincial government of the day, it was a tumultuous and highly controversial change in municipal governance that has accorded greater power to the Island’s largest urban communities.

I vividly recall then Minister of Municipal Reform, Jeannie Lea, bravely walking into a raucous meeting in St. Eleanors, where residents of that old and proud community on the edges of Summerside were prepared to string her up.

Just so history is understood here, St. Eleanors was settled long before ‘Green’s Shore’ which later became Summerside, and it was the County Seat until the 1870s, with its courthouse, churches and merchants.

The apostles of municipal amalgamation will argue that local history and identity are just romantic and indulgent ideas and that bigger is always better.

Others look soberly at both our cities, the two guinea pigs of amalgamation, and see debt-ridden, over serviced communities, administered by self important elected municipal leaders.

In 2009, Premier Robert Ghiz tasked late former Justice Ralph Thompson to review provincial land use policies and local governance.

In his watershed report, Judge Thompson cautioned that prior to further municipal amalgamation, “Islanders will have to be convinced that changes will be fair, affordable, necessary, not unduly onerous and in the best interest of the Island as a whole.”

That’s a stiff litmus test.

Thompson then went on to recommend carving up the Island into 24 “sustainable” municipal units from west to east.

The Thompson Report ends with this warning: “We cannot afford to maintain the status quo in a world that is changing all around us.”

Clearly, Prince Edward Island must change in many respects to better its chances for economic and jurisdictional survival.

We need a new Island vision for the future, one built around quality education, respect for the land and entrepreneurship among other things.

We need a move away from the present industrial agricultural model and we desperately need greater environmental stewardship and more effective provincial land use policies.

We also need rural re-population and economic development.

But I am doubtful if wholesale municipal government reform can bring about any of this desired change.

The latest boundary expanding initiative proposes the amalgamation of Brudenell, Cardigan, Georgetown, Lorne Valley, Lower Montague, Montague, and Valleyfield, an amalgamation that advocates say will create the fourth largest municipality in the province and strengthen the rural political voice in eastern Prince Edward Island.

Such a proposed coming together of local communities with their own histories and identities, most of which presently do not share geographical boundaries, will be a hard sell.

For its part, Montague has had second thoughts and is not participating in the venture.

In a small province such as ours, we can’t afford to lose local diversity and sense of place. Recasting boundaries and creating new communities in name and function destroys that local character and I believe takes us further down the road to jurisdictional unsustainability and irrelevance.

We cannot afford culturally to let our local communities disappear.

In my opinion, we need a more fundamental and comprehensive review of governance, one that goes well beyond municipal amalgamations and empire building.

How many springs does it really take to wind a watch?

Perhaps we should consider a political landscape that begins with a smaller Provincial Legislature, three county governments, two cities and precious little else.

There is a little book on my shelf that rings out a particular truth.

It is Alan Rayburn’s ‘Geographical Names of Prince Edward Island’, published in 1973, as the Island celebrated the 100th Anniversary of joining Confederation.

Moore’s Point? There are two of them. Campbell’s Creek, Toronto, Suffolk and Milburn. There are two of these as well. Elliotvale, Kingston, Red House, Donaldson and Southampton.

Can you close your eyes and locate them?

In a galaxy not that far away, an Island premier once sarcastically and dismissively remarked that Hunter River is just a way to get to Summerside, it doesn’t really matter in the larger scheme of things.

It’s that kind of thinking we need to guard against in our efforts to rationalize, consolidate, amalgamate and make everything bigger.

The Global Chorus for January 31st is by Alanna Mitchell, a journalist and author of the book Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis

Here is an excerpt:

<snip> "(W)hat if we quite fiercely choose hope and then zero that hope in on the task of rewriting the story’s end? It will take sacrifice, loss. We will have to relinquish some of our fear, a lot of our anger and blame and guilt and despair about the state our species has put the planet in. But those emotions are the stuff of paralysis anyway. They suck up good energy, driving it into a black hole of helplessness." <snip> -- Alanna Mitchell

January 30, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Three interesting things:

Tomorrow, "Maritime Connections"

Sunday, January 31st, 3-4PM, CBC Radio One

A one-hour call in show for CBC in the Maritimes, is talking about the Energy East pipeline. Consider calling and voicing your opinion, or tune in and hear the discussion.

Today: The workers from the Canadian Blood Services have been on strike for weeks, with one of their demands is some guaranteed hours of work each week. There is a really planned today at 1PM, gathering inside at the Cabot Room of the Best Western on Grafton Street, and marching to Province House for the rally.

Elizabeth May wrote this lucid piece about these recent multi-country mega-deal trade agreements not being about trade. Definitely worth reading if you have some time when not shoveling today.


When is a trade agreement not a trade agreement? - Elizabeth May website article originally published in Embassy

By Elizabeth May, MP for Sanich-Gulf Islands and federal Green Party Leader,

Published on-line on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

The question is neither hypothetical nor esoteric. It is immediate and urgent as governments around the world commit to so-called “trade deals” that have little to do with trade.

A trade deal, as conventionally understood, sets out an agreed commitment to reduce and/or eliminate barriers to trade rated by protectionist impulses of governments. Trade deals open up sectors of one country’s economy for investments by other countries. Trade deals, in essence, are about trade in goods and services.

On the other hand, agreements to convey to foreign corporations rights and privileges not available to domestic corporations are not about trade. Such investor-state agreements, or foreign investor protection and promotion agreements (FIPAs), travel alongside trade agreements (as in Chapter 11 of NAFTA) or sometimes masquerade as trade agreements (as in Canada’s FIPA with China), but they are not trade agreements. As Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz pointed out in his damning New York Times critique of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, deals such as the TPP are more about managing trade in the interests of foreign corporations than they are about trade.

Understanding the difference between an investor state agreement and a trade deal is critical. Note that the Investor-State agreements have a number of acronym descriptors – ISDS, FIPAs, Investor-State. This alphabet soup may not have intentionally further disguised this stealth attack on national sovereignty, but disguised it unquestionably is.

Canada has lost, or caved and settled rather than lose, more environmentally premised attacks through the ISDS of Chapter 11 of NAFTA than any other country. We have considerable experience in this area, yet little awareness that such is the case. Canadians, in particular, need to understand that our losing track record under Chapter 11 is not because our government, federal or various provincial governments, have behaved in ways that were rooted in trade discrimination. To lose when taken to Chapter 11 arbitration does not require that our actions were unreasonable, discriminatory, trade disruptive or unsupported by science. All we have to have done is act to reduce a foreign corporation’s expectation of profits. In the most recent Chapter 11 loss, a US corporation ignored its right to pursue its complaint in our federal courts. This was an unprecedented move to opt for a secret arbitration tribunal instead of open courts. US mining company, Bilcon of Delaware, asked a secret NAFTA arbitration panel for $300 million in damages against Canada. No Canadian corporation in similar circumstances could have sought this amount, nor accessed a private tribunal.

Bilcon’s proposal for a basalt quarry in Digby Neck, Nova Scotia had been rejected by a joint Federal-Provincial Environmental Assessment Panel back in 2007. The panel found the proposal to be so seriously damaging to the environment that no mitigation was possible. Transiting shipments of basalt through the Bay of Fundy to build highways in New Jersey threatened the survival of the most endangered whale species on the planet – the North Atlantic Right Whale. It threatened existing economic activity in tourism and the lobster fishery. It offended community values.

Based on the panel’s recommendations, the project was rejected by Progressive Conservative Nova Scotia Environment Minister Mark Parent and federal Conservative Environment Minister John Baird. Then Bilcon opted for Chapter 11 of NAFTA. The local community had no access to the secret proceedings. Neither did the Canadian environmental law community.

In spring of 2015, two out of three arbitrators found for Bilcon. The dissent by the only Canadian arbitrator, Prof Don McRae of University of Ottawa Law School, outlined the outrageous nature of the ruling. McRae noted that the Bilcon Chapter 11 ruling does unprecedented damage to Canadian sovereignty and to the integrity of the environmental assessment process. Thankfully, the previous government filed an appeal to the ruling. It is hoped the new government will vigorously pursue the appeal. Still, NAFTA Chapter 11 cases are virtually impossible to win on appeal. (Someday perhaps Murray Rankin, MP for Victoria, may explain his service to Bilcon, testifying against Canada in the secret tribunal while a sitting MP).

As damaging as Canadian experience has been with Chapter 11 of NAFTA, even graver threats to our sovereignty are posed by the Canada-China Investment Agreement. The Canada China FIPA was ratified by the previous Cabinet, without any hearings in Parliament, without any vote in Parliament. Osgoode Hall Law professor Gus Van Harten has done all Canadians a service by writing “Sold down the Yangtze: Canada’s lopsided investment deal with China.” We are locked into that deal until at least 2045, unless Beijing agrees to renegotiate. And now the TPP presents the threat of another nine countries with the right to take Canada to arbitration.

It is time to shine a light on these investor-state agreements. It is time for a multi-lateral review and re-negotiation of the lot of them to an agreed upon international template to fairly protect investors without undermining national sovereignty, as well as domestic health, labour and environmental laws.

Originally published in Embassy

January 29, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

As you may have heard, the Winter Woodlot Tour scheduled for Saturday, January 30th in Rustico has been postponed for a week, until next Saturday, February 6th.

The government released the schedule for the next round of public meetings with the Special Committee on Legislative Renewal. The purpose is to discuss options for electoral reform as the Committee works on a plebiscite question to present to the provincial Legislative Assembly during the Spring Sitting. They open and close in Charlottetown at the Murphy Community Centre (Tuesday, February 9th and Tuesday, March 1st). Unfortunately, the first one is also the same night as ECOPEI's annual general meeting. Morell, Hunter River and Tignish get evening meetings, Summerside on a Saturday afternoon.

from their press release:

The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island is starting its next phase of consultations, which will focus on the plebiscite question. There will be a series of community forums starting on February 9th and concluding on March 1st dedicated to this topic:

Feb. 9 (7 pm) Murphy's Commmunity Centre in Charlottetown; Feb. 11 (7 pm) Morell Regional High School in Morell; Feb. 23 (7 pm) Central Queens United Church in Hunter River; Feb. 25 (7 pm) Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 6 in Tignish; Feb. 27 (2 pm) Loyalist Lakeview Resort in Summerside; and March 1 (7 pm) Murphy's Community Centre in Charlottetown.

The format will be engaging, and will feature discussions among those in attendance and an exchange of ideas. A video with some information on various electoral system options will be shown to start the conversation.

You will see advertisements in this Saturday's Guardian and Journal Pioneer newspapers; and next Wednesday's editions of La voix acadienne, West Prince Graphic and Eastern Graphic. <attached and printed, above>

The Special Committee hopes that you will be able to join them at one of the upcoming meetings. There is no need to register. All are welcome!


The schedule is not exactly "mid-January to mid-March" as described in the November 2015 report to the P.E.I. Legislature, and the five locations chosen ignore anything east of Morell, or the southwest of the Island, but it's a good start. The government chose the timing of the release of these dates on a day already busy with releases such as the Education restructuring and a couple of major health announcements; but here they are. We can all help spread the news via e-mail and other electronic media, too.

Robert Bateman is the Canadian naturalist and painter, and wrote the January 28th Global Chorus essay, and here is an excerpt:


"We need a critical mass of people to pay attention to issues. Too many people bury their heads in the sand and don’t want to hear about issues. We prefer, as Neil Postman says, to 'amuse ourselves to death.' To this end we need almost total transparency of the actions of people on top. What forces are behind the scenes? What are the lobbies? Where is the money? Financial transactions should be transparent. Government and corporate scientists should be allowed to be open about their work and their conclusions. No more muzzling of scientists or the media. Lack of transparency is the hallmark of tyranny such as the regimes of Hitler, Stalin or Mugabe." <snip> -- Robert Bateman

January 28, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Ellie Reddin doesn't just report the one-year extension, as the headline suggests, she speaks for the Save Our Seas and Shores (PEI) group by calling for the removal of the NL Board's mandate:

Guardian link

Corridor Resources gets one-year extension on Gulf exploration licence - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Ellie Reddin

Published on Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

(Map from The Guardian's on-line publication of the opinion piece)

For the third time in the past four years, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board has granted a one-year extension to Corridor Resources exploration licence on the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and waived the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. This extension was granted because the board has not conducted the public and Aboriginal consultations required as part of the environmental assessment for this project.

For the past two years, the NL Board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out. The NL Board says it will announce plans for consultations “at a later date,” not sometime soon. Does the Board intend to keep on delaying the consultations indefinitely and continue to give Corridor Resources free licence extensions?

The current licence extension for Corridor Resources is just one in a series of irresponsible, biased actions and decisions on the part of the NL Board. In 2012, the board contracted with AMEC to update the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Newfoundland portion of the Gulf.

The purpose of the SEA was to assist the board “in determining whether further exploration rights should be offered in whole or in part for the Western NL Offshore Area.” While the SEA was being conducted, the NL Board issued a call for bids, including for licences within the Gulf. Clearly, the Board assumed that further exploration rights would be offered in the Gulf, regardless of the findings of the SEA.

The SEA update report from AMEC discussed: numerous risks to marine species and the fisheries and tourism industries, the presence of many sensitive areas and endangered species, important data gaps, lack of social acceptability, and the complex and deteriorating state of the Gulf. The logical conclusion would have been that the kn

Only two of the five Gulf provinces have set up Offshore Petroleum Boards: Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Nova Scotia Board ceased any activity in the Gulf in 1999. If the NL Board did not have a pro-petroleum industry bias, it would also cease all activity in the Gulf.

The roles of the NL Board include facilitating hydrocarbon resource development in the NL Offshore and protecting the environment. As noted in the Wells Report of 2010, these are conflicting mandates. Clearly, the NL Board shows by its actions and decisions that protecting the Gulf ecosystem is not a priority.

The federal and NL governments have abrogated their responsibilities to oversee the decisions of this appointed body. Decisions such as the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL ministers of Natural Resources. Meanwhile, the protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents to protect the Gulf and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.

own risks outweigh the potential benefits. Although the authors of a report normally write the conclusions, the NL Board decided to write the conclusions itself. Predictably, the NL Board concluded that “petroleum exploration activities generally can be undertaken in the Western NL area…”

Given the failure of the NL Board to act in a responsible manner, Save Our Seas and Shores P.E.I. is calling on the federal and NL governments to remove the board’s mandate pertaining to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Ellie Reddin of Cornwall is Past-Chair, Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS P.E.I.)

The David Suzuki Foundation not too long ago published a more clear map and an article about how an oil spill would affect the region:


January 27, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Sad news that P.E.I. farmer Steven MacKinnon passed away suddenly Monday night in his home in New Argyle. He was 53 and had just been outside chopping wood. Steven was very active in the National Farmers Union, and the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water. He spoke on the importance of local food, and protecting our soil and water. You may remember him from the panel with Maude Barlow at the Council of Canadian's forum this Fall at the Rodd Hotel.


This is from Robert Reich, a former U.S. Secretary of Labour in the 1990s, about the Trans Pacific Trade deal:

from Robert Reich's Facebook page posting, January 25th, 2016:

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will travel to New Zealand Feb. 4 to join 11 other trade ministers in a formal signing ceremony for the Trans Pacific Partnership. After that, it’s up to Congress to pass it. The Obama administration wants a majority vote before Election Day.

Today the nonpartisan Peterson Institute for International Economics issued the most comprehensive analysis to date on the likely consequences of the deal. It finds that the TPP will boost American exports by 9 percent a year and increase overall economic growth. But it will not increase the number of jobs in the U.S., and could force 50,000 U.S. workers each year to find new jobs. Those displaced workers “may experience serious transition costs including lasting wage cuts and unemployment,” according to the report.

So, do we want to grow the economy and add to the nation’s overall wealth (presumably, mostly at the top), but cause a significant number of Americans whose wages are already dropping to face even lower wages and more job cuts? That’s the direction we’ve been going for the past 35 years. The Trans Pacific Partnership will only hasten it.

Food for thought.

Lauren Bush Lauren, world traveler, philanthropist and new mother, wrote the January 27th Global Chorus essay. Wikipedia article on Lauren Bush Lauren. Here is an excerpt:

<snip>" Ultimately, I believe the foundation for real and lasting global change is universal empathy. If our world is connected through a shared Earth, it must also be connected through a shared compassion and common sense of human dignity. It really boils down to the Golden Rule: 'treat others as you would like to be treated.' If the world could abide by that simple rule, many of the daunting challenges we face today would go away. But in the meantime, it is up to each of us to come up with our own ideas and solutions." <snip> -- Lauren Bush Lauren

January 26, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A Tuesday mixed-bag:

Tonight at Sackville, at Mount Allison, Naomi Klein is speaking, all welcome, if you can get over there.

More details here.


Canada to sign-on-- but that doesn't necessarily it will be ratified -- the Trans Pacific Partnership.

CBC Story on TPP

Some groups have links to petitions to tell the Prime Minister or International Trade Minister Chrystina Freeland to *keep the campaign promise of more public consultation on the TPP*. Here is one:



The group EatLocalGrown promotes eating locally (as you could guess) and has a cute little animation from November of last year, explaining RoundUp-Ready crops, genetically modified organisms, and Monsanto, in about two minutes:


for some reason they show the sketch of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D, the toxic compound in Agent Orange, for instance) instead of the glyphosate molecule, but Monsanto is promoting 2,4-D for glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Facebook Group for EatLocalGrown

Website for EatLocalGrown

The P.E.I. Legislature released its *2014* Report of the Legislative Assembly, with a lot of information about how it works and many events of the year. The link is mentioned on this page in the right-hand sidebar of their website:


The homepage of the Legislative Assembly should have some notification about the dates for the next round of public consultations regarding Democratic Renewal/electoral reform, which are likely to start any day soon.

Chef and food activist Jamie Oliver wrote the Global Chorus for January 26th:

"True, sustainable, radical transformation of individuals, families or communities doesn’t come from one action – everything has to change, everyone has to contribute and everyone needs to be openminded to change, which makes it tough. But that doesn’t mean people can’t lead the way, set examples and give people hope. Of course governments should step up and big, responsible organizations should set an example, but there’s no reason why change and making better choices can’t start with individuals and be fun.

"I believe that even the best governments can only think short-term – as far as the next election or, at best, the one after. Big problems that will take decades to solve are overwhelming, and the likelihood is that by the time things get REALLY bad, the other guy will be in power. So I’m pretty sure a lot of them think that big solutions can wait. They can’t. It’s not too late to make a difference. " <snip> -- Jamie Oliver

January 25, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A few events later this week and next:

Saturday, January 30th, 9AM to 1PM:

Winter Woodlot Tour, 2289 Church Road, Rustico

Demonstrations on maple syrup tapping, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, PEI Birds, much more.

Facebook Event link

Wednesday, February 3rd, 6:30PM:

General Meeting of the PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation

Facebook Event link

Tuesday, February 9th:

ECOPEI Annual General Meeting

details to follow

Here is a link to Rosalyn Riddlington Abbott's petition with the very basic, very important, request for the Town of Cornwall -- which is both "town and country" -- to reconsider allowing some backyard agriculture like a few hens and small dairy goats. More info here with this link to:

Petition regarding Town of Cornwall and allowing small backyard flocks and such

Speaking of ecological, family-driven, agriculture, here is part of the background and a link to a recent article on Indian environmentalist and sustainable agriculture educator Vandana Shiva:

Dr. Vandana Shiva’s work around seed sovereignty and organic agriculture is perhaps best known in India. But she influences and inspires on a global scale.

With special thanks to, and permission from Acres U.S.A., North America’s monthly magazine of ecological agriculture, we reprint the following introduction and in-depth interview with Dr. Shiva.

Americans who visit India often come back more or less overwhelmed by its vast size and complexity, and if they are not stunned into silence they are at least much less willing to engage in generalities. Timeless beauty, explosive economic growth, persistent poverty and about a billion people all make for an intense experience if you’re used to the predictable movements of cars and shoppers.

The one-page background on the article is here:


The article is here:


It's a longish article, so perhaps bookmark it for when you have time to read it.

Finally, related to part of what Vandana Shiva is struggling against in India (Monsanto and its "Round-up" glyphosate herbicide), Tony Lloyd wrote this letter published in Friday's Guardian:


Glyphosates pose threat to health - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Last fall, Dr. Eilish Cleary, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer, was studying the effects of glyphosate on public health when she was placed on leave. We now hear that Dr. Cleary has reached a settlement?

In the U.S.A., glyphosate is sprayed on sugarcane before harvesting to increase its sucrose content by up to 15 per cent. Such spraying is referred to as ‘ripening.’ The standard application rate of glyphosate is 90 grams per acre but results are inconsistent so farmers spray larger amounts; multiple applications also increases yield. The maximum permissible residue of glyphosate for cane sugar is 2.0 milligrams per kilogram (2 parts per million (PPM)); molasses 30 PPM; carrots 5 PPM; canola 40 PPM; peppermint tops 200 PPM.

Glyphosate is used for weed control on cereal and oilseed crops. These crops are also sprayed before harvest to boost yield. Trace amounts of glyphosate are found in downwind soil, air and rain; we are all bystanders: bats, birds, worms, snakes, insects, the unborn, the young, the old. Gut bacteria account for 80 per cent of human immune function. The human gut is an organ which bidirectionally communicates with our brain. Our gut is now being called our ‘second brain’ and our ‘window on the world.’

Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT has identified biochemical pathways in the gut disrupted by glyphosate for the following diseases: obesity, mood and behavior disorders, autoimmune dysfunction, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s and autism. Puppet scientists continue their propaganda campaigns in an attempt to lobotomize and silence the Canadian people about glyphosate. The externalized costs of declining public health and declining biodiversity become increasingly apparent. The foregoing disease and casualty lists are consequences of a tradition of biological and chemical warfare by the military industrial complex.

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart

January 24, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Journalist Ian Petrie can be a tough read when he is carefully describing a contentious issue, especially one many of us have strong feelings about; but his depth of experience, analysis and comments are very important. This is his latest column in Island Farmer newspaper, which is published every other week by Paul MacNeill's PEICanada Press.


A more honest discussion on a difficult topic - Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Ppublished in Island Farmer newspaper on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

I met Stuart Hill back in the 1970’s when he headed up the ecological agriculture program at MacDonald College near Montreal. He wrote this back then, something I’ve always remembered: “Getting into the pesticide debate is asking to be insulted. If you voice concerns about pesticides, you are likely to be told that you are a misinformed idealist who has become a victim of irrational fears. If you speak for pesticides, you might be referred to as a profiteering polluter and people poisoner.”

With that risk in mind (and every expectation of being insulted), let’s consider the research reviews, and reports released by PEI’s Chief Health Officer on pesticides and human health on PEI. Putting aside the conclusions for a moment, I think it’s an honest effort to put some hard information into a discussion that’s heavily weighted by personal experience, economic need, and emotion. An early misstep (not releasing the names of the researchers or authors) has been rectified, with names, qualifications, and signed statements that they aren’t working for chemical companies, now on the record. However, if the government thought it would quiet the debate, I think it’s dead wrong. It may even be a “What were we thinking?” moment. Nonetheless, it was still the right thing to do.

You can experiment with mice, but you can’t ethically ask people to deliberately expose themselves to pesticides and wait and see whether they get cancer or other serious diseases, so large scale collections of health information and statistical methods are used to make judgments under a process called epidemiology. The language and concepts used make sense to people trained in the field, but to many others, they feel at minimum confusing, and at worst, a cheat. “Appropriate rate” of disease, “adapted risk assessment approach”, and my favourite “Population Attributal Fraction” (how many fewer people would not get cancer if one risk factor, a pesticide but nothing else, was removed- I think that’s what it means) are some of the terms used in this study.

At the heart of this for many is a suspicion that authorities simply want to justify the continued use of pesticides, and will stickhandle the numbers, and the mumbo jumbo, to get that result. I don’t in any way believe that. I do think there is a bias in the interpretation of the statistics: that if 2% of the population is going to grow low cost, high quality food, then pesticide use isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. I think that’s true.

This bias feeds into the conclusion of the PEI study which has caused so much controversy. It’s not saying that pesticides are safe, the data presented in the epidemiological studies clearly doesn’t support that. It’s saying that stopping the use of pesticides would lead to negligible improvement in cancer and other disease rates, and the researchers conclude therefore that pesticides “do not pose a significant public health risk.” It’s understandable that after going through a hundred pages of health risks associated with pesticides, that many would find this conclusion unbelievable. In the world of risk management that researchers, scientists and engineers live in, and maybe only for them, it makes perfect sense.

What about farmers? I was told again and again by farmers over the years that spraying pesticides is the activity they least look forward to every summer. The fact that many of the people driving by think they’re poisoning their fellow Islanders only makes it more difficult.

Ecological agriculture proponent Stuart Hill says what he looks for in farmers is that they make every effort to understand a pest problem first, and only then, choose the least harmful way of solving it. He’s written: “Farmers do not want to pollute the environment; they use pesticides because of their availability, convenience, efficiency and ability to generate profit. Effective alternatives to pesticides are presently not available for most agricultural pests in Canada or, if available, are often less convenient to use. Access to bank loans and crop insurance is often tied to the use of pesticides. Most farmers would be willing to stop spraying if safe alternatives, with the positive characteristics of pesticides, were available.”

There won’t be anyone reading this column who hasn’t been touched by cancer. My mother and several close friends have died from the disease, more will in the future. So what do we do? What do we demand? What do we hope for? *Farmers need more research and guidance about the least harmful ways to control pests, and need to get it from publically funded institutions, not advertising and advice from pesticide manufacturers.*

Consumers need to support farmers who are trying to grow food more safely and yes, be willing to pay a little more for it. Stopping the cosmetic use of pesticides seems like a no-brainer. Most of this is well understood: “integrated pest management” (spraying only when necessary), the 4 R’s movement (right product, right time, right rate, right place) are well established and need to become the norm rather than exception. The use of GPS and “precision farming” will keep pesticides where they’re needed and nowhere else. And of course we need a better understanding of the whole range of potential health risks from cell phone radiation, to wood smoke.

These new PEI studies, this column, nothing will change how people feel about pesticides. At minimum, cause and effect isn’t proven, but no one can say, ever, that pesticides are safe. The government was right to gather this information, and present it in its entirety. We should have a more honest, if not less heated, discussion about this issue in the future.

And while on hearing what we may not want to hear ;-) with thanks to Tony Reddin for originally sharing it.

Here is the text with some bolding by me; the original article has some lovely illustrations.

Meeting People Where They’re At - Briarpatch online article by Tracey Mitchell

Four tips for activists

Published on August 25th, 2015, on-line in Briarpatch magazine


When I was a university student, I had two distinct sets of friends – there were the people that I lived with and partied alongside in residence, and there were those with whom I did social justice and environmental organizing. I was excited when a group I was involved with, the Sierra Youth Coalition, held a beer night fundraiser because it provided an opportunity to bring my two sets of friends together. “All-you-can-drink beer for five dollars?” my friends in residence asked. “What’s the catch?” “No catch,” I said, “and you’ll be raising money for a good cause.”

A few weeks later, one of the friends I had brought along to the beer night was leading chants over a megaphone at a political rally. However, after a few more weeks of spending time with my “activist friends,” she and another friend told me they didn’t want to go to an upcoming gathering with the other activists. “We feel like they’re always judging us and like we’ll never be good enough,” they said. There wasn’t enough cheap beer in the world – or at least not in Saskatoon – to help my friends feel like they belonged among the “granolier-than-thou” crowd, and I felt caught in the middle.

This story is just one example of how people who actually agree with us on issues and relate to our values are often turned off by the ways that we behave as activists. Changing this is critical if we hope to have more hands on deck to work on the issues we care about.

In the 15 years since my failed attempt to bridge the gap between my dorm-mates and my activist friends, I haven’t developed a fail-safe approach to meeting people where they’re at, but I have a few principles that I try to practise.

1) Listen and Relate

When we fail to listen, we meet people where we assume they are at, which can do a lot more harm than good. For instance, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine was livid after a conference we had attended together because, as one of the younger people in the room, people had often looked directly at him when explaining a basic concept or spelling out an acronym. He may have been young but he was already familiar with the terms they were using. Despite the good intentions of the speakers, singling him out for more explanation without having asked him anything about his background made him feel less welcome, not more. Taking time to listen and get to know people also allows us to relate the issues that matter to us to the things they care about in the world (and we ought to be humble and open to learning from others’ experiences, too).

2) Be inviting

Sometimes when I am scrolling through my Facebook friends list to invite people to political events, I notice myself not inviting certain people because I’ve never seen them at that type of event before. In some cases, the person has told me they aren’t interested – but the vast majority of the time, I am just assuming those people aren’t keen, even though I actually don’t know and have never asked them to come out to anything. And yet I often wonder out loud why more people don’t get involved! Reaching out to people in person or over the phone goes a long way toward making people want to be active. Better yet, ask people to play a specific role in your organizing that is suited to their interests or skills. Even a personalized email with a specific “ask” will go a lot further than a mass email or Facebook invite.

Similarly, I don’t know how many events I’ve been to (or organized) where at no point in the event is anything said about how people can continue to be involved or what the next step is in a strategy. Whenever possible, building in specific “asks,” both of the whole group and of individuals directly, should be a key part of an event-organizing checklist if we want our movements to grow.

3) Be affirming and encouraging

Jenn Bergen is a commun­ity organizer currently pursuing her PhD in education with a focus on youth civic engagement. When I asked her about tips for meeting people where they’re at, she said, “Always remember that at some point in your life you didn’t know what you know now and at some point people were meeting you where you were at. No one has gotten to where they are without having been a recipient of that kind of relationship.” Kindly and gently supporting people as they learn, including making space for their mistakes, is important. People did (and probably still do) the same for us whether we realize it or not.

Furthermore, when new people get involved in something we are organizing, noticing their contributions is extremely important. Often, what seems like a small contribution by someone new to our group has actually taken a lot of effort and has required the person to step outside their comfort zone. Feeling appreciated and valued is key to making someone want to continue to be involved in our organizing.

4) Seek common ground

Recently, I went to see a children’s play with a friend who is 10 years old. When a performer asked the kids what they would do if they were royalty for a day, my friend’s hand shot up and she responded, to the uncomfortable laughter of the adults in the audience, “I would make it so that all of the power in the world came from nuclear power plants.” I cringed inside and took a deep breath. After the show, we talked about her moment in the spotlight and why people had laughed. I admitted that we didn’t actually agree on the subject of nuclear power, and that not everyone saw nuclear power as a safe, clean technology. I thought she was old enough to know that not everyone agrees with her. However, knowing that she is a girl in a world that discourages women from being smart and assertive, I also chose to look for what I did agree with in what she said. I told her that it was perfectly fine to disagree with people you like, and that I thought it was cool how much she seemed to know about energy issues and that she was very smart. I was affirming, and I also didn’t want to use age as a power play. I may have great analysis and be able to win a dispute against a 10-year-old, but empowering her as a young woman was more important to me than winning the argument.

As activists, we often agree about 99 per cent of things but spend much more than one per cent of our energy fighting about where we disagree – frequently in ways that are damaging to our movements. It’s important to seek common ground when we can. If I know that someone agrees with me on an issue and is kind and likable, I’m much more likely to seriously consider their view on a subject where we disagree, and they are likely to do the same. Finding common ground isn’t just a good idea because I might be able to win someone over on other issues; it’s also a good idea because the common ground we find may lead to entirely new possibilities and ideas.

Tracey Mitchell coordinates Next Up Saskatchewan and also coordinates a mental health peer support program in Saskatoon. She is a member of the national board of the Council of Canadians and a founding member of the public transit advocacy group Bus Riders of Saskatoon.

And more advice from Carl Honere, a supporter of the Slow-Food Movement in Italy, from the January 24th Global Chorus selection:

"There is always hope. If we work together and channel our better angels, we can fix this mess.

"The first step is to forge a radically new definition of success. Consuming more should cease to be the measure of a good life. Instead, we must build a culture that prizes meaning and connection, that places on a pedestal those who make the world a better place.

"The most powerful way to bring about this cultural revolution is to slow down. When we live in fast forward, we struggle to look beyond our own selfish, short-term desires. Decelerating can help us see the big picture. When we take time to live each moment fully, we start to notice and cherish other people and everything else around us.

"Bottom line: the only way to save this fast world is to slow down." — Carl Honoré

January 23, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets open today in Summerside and Charlottetown, and some grocery stores have local food.


"It's not about the price of cauliflower....it's about not planning for the future. It's about missed opportunities to ensure our provincial food security. Food security doesn't work by election cycles....it works if there is long term planning in place.

GrowBC, FeedBC, BuyBC....it's not too late.....but it's overdue." --

-- Lana Popham, a British Columbian local food supporter and environmentalist, easily applied to P.E.I.

Related to the excerpt from discussions yesterday regarding the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy -- here is there report submitted to the Legislature last December with their recommendations:


While we are waiting for the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal to post its schedule for winter public meetings (I am afraid there won't be much time between when the meetings are announced and the first one :-/ ---

here are some thoughts by committee member and District 17 MLA (and Leader of the Third Party) Peter Bevan-Baker, from:


from Friday, January 22nd, 2016, from Peter Bevan-Baker:

Blog: Getting the best result from electoral reform by Peter Bevan-Baker

With the second round of democratic renewal public consultations about to get under way, I thought it might be a good time to talk about the unique opportunity that PEI has to shape national affairs.

Since its birth, Canada has used the “First-Past-The-Post” system to elect governments at the federal and provincial levels. Prime Minister Trudeau has stated that from now on that won’t be the case federally. The next federal election will use something different to elect our House of Commons.

Meanwhile here on Prince Edward Island, the process of reviewing our electoral system was already well under way before the Liberals assumed power in Ottawa. In July of this year, Premier MacLauchlan launched a special committee to consult with Islanders and to bring forward a question (or questions) for a plebiscite on the issue of democratic reform. I have had the pleasure and privilege of serving on this committee. We have heard from Islanders all across PEI, and received hundreds of written submissions on the topic. As a member of the committee, I have put aside my own preferences and listened openly as Islanders expressed their inclinations for our electoral future. While I understand that discussions on democratic reform don’t necessarily get the heart fluttering, I remain convinced that how we elect our representatives has profound implications when it comes to the nature and quality of governance.

So rather than advocate for a particular electoral system, how about we look at what we want to get from an election outcome? Or put another way, how can we craft the electoral system that will optimise governance on Prince Edward Island? I believe there are several features of such a system, and they are.

  1. That it results in a legislature that accurately reflects the voting intentions of Islanders.

  2. That it produce a legislature where the potential for abuse of power is minimized.

  3. That it be a tool to ensure that the diversity of Island society (i.e. gender, cultural, political, economic, ethnic) be represented in the legislature.

  4. That it encourage collegial behaviour amongst elected representatives.

  5. That it be designed to meet our particular needs here on PEI.

Rather than championing one particular option, how about we agree on the outcomes we would prefer, and then go looking for the system that is most likely to produce it?

So I ask the questions:

Do you agree with my criteria? Is there anything missing from the above list?

If we can agree on what we want, then we can have a useful debate about how the various options before us – status quo, preferential ballot, proportional representation, etc. – fit the bill. It may be that whatever we choose here on PEI is scalable for the whole country, or it may not. Either way, the eyes of the nation will be on our deliberations here, and we have a chance to be pioneers in electoral reform, to modernize our system and improve how we elect our representatives, and more importantly, the governance they provide.


The Global Chorus essay from January 23rd is by Cheryl Charles, who works on getting kids closer to nature:

<snip> "Ecologies don’t talk about hope; they demonstrate it. So can we humans. Our actions will inspire and support others. We can exercise the will, we can make conscious choices, we can cultivate a sense of efficacy in ourselves and others – especially in children and youth – and we can create a positive, healthy and life-sustaining future.<snip>" -- Cheryl Charleshttp://www.childrenandnature.org/

January 22, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Not sure how I forgot to mention this before - -anyone thinking of going over to it?

Naomi Klein to speak at Mount Allison University, Tuesday, January 26th

Naomi Klein is speaking at Mount Allison on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 7 p.m. in Convocation Hall (37 York Street, Sackville). Everyone is welcome. Klein will deliver a public lecture based on her latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

Naomi Klein is an internationally renowned Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her critique of corporate capitalism. Her analysis of climate change fits in to this larger critique. Her books include This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo (2000).

Klein is also a columnist for The Nation magazine and the Guardian newspaper and is a contributing editor at Harper’s magazine. She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and also sits on the board of directors for 350.org.

full media release is here

District 18 Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers is not my MLA, but as Opposition Environment Critic he pays attention to many issues the Citizens' Alliance does; he also is an animated communicator, via his website, for one example. I appreciate this following on our debt and on one Standing Committee's work, which I have copied below.

There is a new running tally of P.E.I.'s interest payment on our debt, which is, in a word, nauseating (see arrow):

Screenshot from:


The arrow is mine. (Note that the amount has gone up almost $200, 000 since I took that screenshot last night.)

Besides the interest calculator, Trivers' featured article is a summary of the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy's last meeting. I do not think Brad is assigned to this Committee (latest transcript from the meeting and membership here), but it's an important one and it's good for people to hear about its plans for this year.

<snip> Committee members reviewed the agenda and approved the list of witnesses and groups that has been suggested for each topic of discussion.

Thus far the committee will be discussing:

  • A) Crown asset disposal policies

  • B) Further review of IRAC and petroleum regulation

  • C) Further review of energy conservation efforts in PEI

  • D) Further review of renewable energy use in PEI

New Business

The Committee noted that they had wanted to discuss the issue of infrastructure as it relates to the provision of High Speed Internet and noted that the Education and Innovation Committee was going to tackle that subject – they requested that they get notification and an invitation to that committee’s meeting with Bell Aliant on that subject. Members seemed to feel that the subject should be under their committee and noted that if they wanted to discuss it themselves, they could bring it to the agenda at a later date. <snip>

A previous post on money in and out of government is here:



District 17 (Kellys Cross-Cumberland) and Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker also has a personal website http://www.peterbevanbaker.ca/, and James Alyward (District 7 Stratford-Kinlock) communicates via Facebook and Twitter quite engagingly. I have mentioned these MLAs and their social media before; how well do other MLAs communicate via "new" media with their constituents and/or all Islanders?

"We are looking to brands for poetry and for spirituality, because we're not getting those things from our communities or from each other."

-- Naomi Klein

January 21, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight is the Institute of Island Studies Symposium, 7PM, free:

Island Mobility, Migration and Population Issues,

UPEI, McDougall Hall (Business Building), Room 242

(University Avenue entrance may be the easiest)

"(This) will provide an opportunity for the public to hear about and contribute to the debate on several of the salient population issues that are crucial to the future of Prince Edward Island." All welcome.

This parent and the others have been working with the system for years; MLA and Opposition Health Critic James Aylward has been advocating for this, it unanimously passed in the Spring 2015 sitting of the P.E.I. Legislation Assembly; but it appears stalled, and you can feel their frustration:

Published on Wednesday, January 19th, 2016, in The Journal-Pioneer


Ground to a Halt - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor

On P.E.I., child physiotherapy and occupational therapy stops being served around the age of six – even though many require ongoing treatment.

The political scandals, 'red tape' and generous layers of bureaucracy are burning through public resources - making it difficult to provide therapy.

Health P.E.I. has targeted special needs children as a priority in their strategic plan, but so far the solution has been to increase the spend by roughly 0.06 per cent of the Health P.E.I. budget.

We know P.E.I. needs more physiotherapists and occupational therapists. We know it's wrong to stop providing rehabilitation when children turn six. We know P.E.I. has enough to provide the services children require – without breaking the bank. We also know that newly appointed Health Minister Robert Henderson stood with the Premier, cabinet ministers and all voting MLAs to unanimously support our motion [no. 30] in the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly to correct this.

The prayers of the motion are clear: (The full motion is available online.) HERE

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this assembly urge government to officially respond as soon as possible to the petition and commit itself to improving access to children’s physical services for the benefit of Island children aged 0-18; [NOTE: There are no rules or legislative process in place to facilitate tabled public petition responses.]

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Assembly encourage government to commit to an aggressive timetable for these access improvements ...

Robert Henderson, alone, can end this multigenerational systematic discrimination and improve the mobility and lives of PEI Children ­ as stated clearly in the Public Health Act of P.E.I.

Excerpt from the Public Health Act:

3. (1) The Minister shall establish, and may amend, a provincial health plan, which shall include

(c) the health services to be provided or made available in the province and the health facilities to be operated by Health P.E.I.;

Will Robert Henderson be a true leader and resolve this issue or continue to allow the system to discriminate against children on P.E.I.?

I'd love to know.

Jeff Matheson, Hartsville

Mike Holmes, the building guy, writes the January 21st essay for Global Chorus. Here is part of it:

"Every home should work with its environment. It just makes sense. Use the rainwater, the sunlight, the temperature in the ground. I’ve built these homes. Why? Because when you work with Mother Nature, she works for you. You live healthier. You live happier.

"I have hope because we know how to build a healthy home. We know how to build a house that respects the environment and uses it to its advantage. And the more homes we build this way, the more we will be building and sustaining our environment. It’s all connected.

"How we live today will impact how we will live tomorrow. And I’m seeing more and more people realize this and do something about it. " -- Mike Holmes

January 20, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Coming soon --



OK, we will be waiting!


In the letter the Citizens' Alliance sent to the Special Committee at the end of December 2015, we suggested that for the next series of meetings/public consultations, the Committee:

  • plan an extensive series for the next phase similar to Horace Carver's Lands Protection Act commission a couple of years ago

  • give the public as much time as possible between the announcement of dates and the first meetings

  • try not to conflict with Institute of Island Studies and with LEAP Day events

  • encourage MLAs to share information about the sessions with their mailing lists

  • continue to engage young people, especially in communities they visit

  • consider several ideas for engaging communications, including through social media.

We also asked the Committee to consider how they wish to receive comments on other (unrelated to voting systems) aspects of government, such as financing, the structure of the Legislative Assembly schedule, etc.

The final thing we mentioned was Premier MacLauchlan's comment in a year-end interview that he was "not a believer in proportional representation" and how we hoped that he, like all Islanders, would keep an open mind and see what information the Special Committee was going to offer on other options.

Again, this website should have an update when it's posted:


Other comments in time:

In exactly one year, the United States of America will inaugurate a new President.

Ten years ago this week, Stephen Harper formed his first minority government in Canada.

Here is an interesting article on wind energy:

Article from Grist.org on Denmark and Wind Energy

and an excerpt:

Wind turbines are as ubiquitous as clogs, Legos, and tall people in Denmark. Unlike the latter three, though, Denmark’s wind turbines were busy setting a world record in 2015.

According to Energinet, Denmark’s electric utility, the country’s turbines accounted for the equivalent of 42 percent of all electricity produced for the year. It’s the highest proportion for any country — breaking a record the country set just last year — ​and represents more than a doubling compared to just 10 years ago.

There are other countries that generate more wind energy each year, but Denmark gets the largest chunk of its energy from wind by far. The government has committed to generating 50 percent of its energy from wind by 2020 and 84 percent by 2035. Denmark is part of the European Union, which committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 at the recent Paris climate talks.<snip>

“The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth, living or dead, as we now have. That lays upon us, whether we like it or not, an awesome responsibility. In our hands now lies not only our own future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth.” -- David Attenborough, British naturalist, television producer and host

January 19, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The following is from a new blog called "100-by-2050", meaning reaching the goal of being powered by 100% renewable energy by the year 2050.

The writer is Islander Matthew McCarville, who really knows this information. Bold is mine.

Welcome to 100 by 2050

published on-line on Friday, January 15th, 2016

This new blog is being created to advance the dialogue for a science-based goal of 100% clean energy for all purposes and people by 2050. So, what is clean energy? It is true no energy source is perfect. Well, two main parameters used to see if a source is clean are its global warming and air pollution impacts. These are by far the two biggest factors to consider. This blog also aims to address other issues associated with energy.

Energy efficiency, or providing the same energy services using less energy also fits within the context of clean energy. By being systematic in reviewing options available it is possible to make better choices and decide the cleanest ways to provide energy for all. Much work has been done by scientists <here at the Solutions Project: http://thesolutionsproject.org/ > and fully clean energy is not only technically possible but economically beneficial.

Why 100% by 2050? It turns out transitioning to a completely clean energy economy could help the world narrowly avoid a rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius in post-industrial time. This is very important, both for humanity and countless species we share Earth with. Global warming and air pollution problems are so serious, plus viable alternatives to business-as-usual exist; such that we can and must achieve 80% clean energy in all-sectors by 2030 and 100% by 2050. That gives society and political leaders about 15 and 35 years, respectively, to make the big changes necessary.

Energy security is vital. People often see fossil fuels as inevitably necessary for example to keep our economy humming along into the future. This blog will help dispel such notions, showing 100% clean energy in all-sectors by 2050 would actually have huge net benefits.

Thanks for checking out this new blog. Stay tuned for more.


A reminder about the LEAP Manifesto

This is a Canadian-wide initiative started by Naomi Klein and others to:

set out a vision for Canada to fight climate change in a way that changes our country for the better – achieving meaningful justice for First Nations, creating more and better jobs, restoring and expanding our social safety net, reducing economic, racial and gender inequalities, as well as welcoming many more migrants and refugees.

Organizations can join as signatories, which the Citizens' Alliance has done, and you are welcome to sign on as individuals.



Combining such national inspiration and with local knowledge, we Islanders can stay aware, informed, and be supportive of the better choices --

and insist upon political will from our elected leaders to make these choices.

Tonight, Tuesday, January 19th, 7PM:

Presentation: Vinland Society: "So you want to go to Iceland...."

UPEI, Main Building, Faculty Lounge (large, traditional-style building near the Student Centre building, parking closest from University Avenue entrance)

from their media release:

So you want to go to Iceland . . . .

In the past several years, travel by Islanders to Iceland has grown from a rarity to a phenomenon. “So you want to go to Iceland…” is a guide for both the never-been-there-yet set, and for experienced travellers looking for new ways to scratch their Iceland itch. The program includes Icelandic basics, a sample itinerary, a chance to question veteran Icelandic trippers, and a showcase of Iceland photos, submitted by the public. Send up to eight of your best shots to davidkcairns@gmail.com, and let him know if you want to do an oral commentary about your own adventure in Iceland. And if you don’t want to talk in the formal part of the evening, come anyway! There’ll be an opportunity for informal discussion and travel-tip-sharing during the intermission and afterward.

The event takes place in the Faculty Lounge in UPEI's Main Building, at 7 pm on January 19. Sponsors are the Vinland Society of PEI and the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI. Admission is free and donations are welcome.

This is the first in a series of an Island Studies Winter/Spring Lecture Series. Watch for details for another lecture about islands – near and far – February 23!

For more information, please contact Laurie at iis@upei.ca or (902) 894-2881.

Musician and children's entertainer Fred Penner wrote the essay that is placed in the January 19th Global Chorus spot, which fits nicely with the 100 by 2050 and LEAP Manifesto ideas above.

Here is an excerpt:

"We are resilient and adaptable human beings, there is no doubt, and we have proven this time and time again over the centuries. That doesn’t make the challenges we face now any easier, but it should give us some sense of optimism. Trust and belief in one another is where it starts. My perspective is blessed and specific to the generation raised with my music.<snip>" --Fred Prenner

January 18, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here are some notes from part of the Watershed Alliance AGM which was held on Saturday, from Andrew Lush, with thanks:

At the Watershed Alliance meeting (Saturday) in Hunter River, Todd (Dupuis, Executive Director of the Division of Environment) spoke about the Water Act.

There have been 46 public presentations, 15 private, 7 written, and 63 e-mails. The website has had between 86 and 409 unique visitors per week.

The government is currently looking at other examples of water acts, while awaiting the EAC (Environmental Advisory Report) report. The timeline has already run over, and the Act may not be finished by the Fall.

Regulations and Policies will be developed after the Act is complete, and Todd couldn’t say how the development of policies will allow for public input – it seems they haven’t thought about that yet.

(High Capacity) HC well permitting won’t be resolved until the policies and regulations have been completed. There was an interesting question from the floor about how international trade agreements might override the Act, and I asked the minister what would happen if TPP or CETA was used to force the digging of HC wells – it seems they haven’t thought of this yet.

Minister (of Communities, Land and Environment) Robert Mitchell, was there for the entire morning - which was refreshingly different from most ministerial visits of the past.

More on the Watershed Alliance, here.

Some interesting things coming up:

EduTOX Video Challenge --deadline March 21st, 2016

from their media release, slighted edited for length:


The EduTOX Video Challenge is a national, bilingual video contest that aims to give youth a voice to promote awareness and action on toxins – and a chance to be nationally recognized for their leadership. We are looking for youth aged 14-22 to make creative and compelling short videos that will get people thinking about and taking action on the toxins that we all encounter in our day-to-day lives.

The EduTOX Video Challenge is being conducted in partnership with some of Canada’s most respected environmental, health, youth and educational organizations including The Sandbox Project and the David Suzuki Foundation.

Prizes will be awarded to the best French and English-language entries – they include scholarships, electronics and much more. Please take a look at our website http://sandboxproject.ca/eduTOX#!/ for more information about the EduTOX Video Challenge, and for ideas about how participants can get started.

Questions can be directed to: info@edutox.ca

More info: http://sandboxproject.ca/eduTOX#!/

Thursday, January 21st, 7PM:

Public Symposium: Island Mobility, Migration and Population Issues, sponsored by the Institute of Island Studies and UPEI Research Services

UPEI, McDougall Hall, Room 242, all welcome, free.

from the media release, edited for length:

The current dynamics of population change in Prince Edward Island will be the subject. Population change has always been at the core of the development of small islands – and it is no different on Prince Edward Island. The upcoming Public Symposium will provide an opportunity for the public to hear about and contribute to the debate on several of the salient population issues that are crucial to the future of Prince Edward Island.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 3rd, 6:30PM:

PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation General Meeting

Murphy Community Centre, Richmond Street, all welcome.

On the agenda:

- Contents and intent of the interim report to the Legislature by the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal (Nov. 27, 2015)

- An action plan for the PR Coalition

Pre-registration suggested: email cooperinstitute@eastlink.ca or phone (902) 894-4573

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”-- Gary Synder, American poet and essayist

January 17, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A couple of weeks ago, UPEI professor Ron Srigley wrote an unflinching review of the state of university education in North America for the Los Angeles Review of Books, here:

Original Essay:


An interview with him by Michael Enright of Sunday Morning on CBC Radio is to be broadcast this morning, perhaps right after the show starts after 9AM. It's prerecorded and posted here on-line is a pop-up audio file here already:

Interview: Michael Enright with Professor Ron Srigley

If for some reason that link won't work, here is the home page for The Sunday Edition, with the link.

Electoral Reform:

On a provincial level, this clear letter was in Friday's Guardian:


Premier MacLauchlan now cool to electoral reform? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Friday, January 15th, 2016

As promised in his inaugural throne speech, the premier has initiated the process toward electoral reform.

The premier’s office released its white paper on democratic renewal on July 9, 2015. Included in this defining document were options for our basic voting system. One of these options appeared to be given preferential treatment.

A special committee on democratic renewal was struck. This committee was to be consensus- based as much as possible. From October 14 to Nov. 16, nine public meetings were held across the island and 112 presentations were made to this committee.

Most presenters questioned the compressed timeline and the lack of resources used to facilitate public participation.

If the premier had shown as much interest in this process as he did in promoting live-bottomed trailers, many more Islanders likely would have been engaged.

The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal tabled its initial report on Nov. 27. It recommended a second series of public consultations from mid-January to mid-March, 2016. It recommended that a public education campaign on electoral systems is required prior to a plebiscite taking place.

It also noted that: “the system most advocated was proportional representation.”

In the premier’s year-end interview with the CBC, he stated: “I’m not a believer in proportional representation.”

He also said: “We shouldn’t be trying to upset the apple cart.”

As of today there is no mention of further public meetings on the democratic renewal website. In the Nov. 12 Guardian editorial “the premier says he’s all for discussion and debate but there comes a time to make a decision.”

The countless hours dedicated to this process by the committee members and the people who presented to it, were of little value, it seems, to the premier. His decision was made before the process began.

Boyd Allen,



Any announcements regarding Democratic Renewal should be here on the Legislative Assembly website:


On the Federal side, articles have been in the local papers from syndicated columnists about how wonderful the First Past the Post system is, and have pointed out that for any changes to voting system, a referendum should be held. Lots of interesting discussion.

This article compares two voices: from the Globe and Mail, and from Columnist Andrew Coyne:

Discussion from the website press progress.

Ian Skelly is a British writer and broadcaster and adviser to Prince Charles. Here is an excerpt from the January 17th Global Chorus essay:

"Shift your perception. Move from seeing yourself 'apart' from Nature, but also away from the notion that we are 'part' of Nature. The truth is, we are Nature. Nature is not a machine made up of parts, but a harmonic, dynamic whole. <snip>" -- Ian Skelly

January 16, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This morning is the Watershed Alliance AGM, featuring remarks by Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell, an update on the water act by executive director of Environment Todd Dupuis, and some presentations by Dr. Mike van den Heuval from UPEI (on Northumberland Strait monitoring), Scott Taylor about the Abegweit fish hathcery, and Garry Gregory on a "nature tracker phone app". Hunter River Community Centre, 9AM to 12:30PM. Poster is here:

The Summerside and Charlottetown Farmers' Markets are open today.

Patricia Chuey is a Canadian registered dietician who writes about healthy eating. Here is a recent column, and I am including it in response to the histrionic articles in media recently about the skyrocketing cost of (imported) fruits and vegetables. Ms. Chuey's writing can be adapted to more local sourcing of some of the foods she mentions, too.




Ten Ways To Still Eat Enough Veggies When Cauliflower Is $7 A Head - by Patricia Cheuy

January 14, 2016

Aiming to eat at least 5 daily servings of vegetables and fruit all year long helps ensure we get the disease-fighting nutrients they offer. In cold and flu season (on now), this remains super important. Ideally, we eat more like 8 servings a day. So how do we cope when fresh cauliflower (and other vegetables) are so incredibly expensive?

I felt compelled to share a few tricks from our home. If you’re an adventurous cook and the kind of person who gets excited by creative, waste-reducing food ideas, you’ll love these. Note that 1 serving of vegetables equals 1 cup of fresh leafy greens or just half a cup of cooked vegetables…so it can be easier than it sounds to get in your 5-8 servings.

  1. Embrace cabbage. Even it is a bit pricier than normal right now, but you’ll get far more mileage from a head of cabbage than cauliflower yet it contains similar powerful nutrients. Using cabbage leaves, give these wraps a try. Just one wrap provides 2 servings of vegetables. (I used almonds in the recipe pictured here, but go with seeds for a less expensive option.)

  2. Make a large coleslaw using grated green or red cabbage, carrots, grated beets, green onion, sesame seeds or any ingredients you like. Use an oil-vinegar or Asian-style sesame dressing to keep it lighter than a traditional mayo dressing. If you like the creamy mayo-types, use some mayo mixed with plain yogurt and lemon juice to make it go further and lighten it up while still being tangy and delicious. Coleslaw stays fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days and is a great side to just about anything. It can also be the base of a meal when topped with a few chickpeas (canned chickpeas are super affordable) for added protein, chunks of canned salmon or protein of your choice.

  3. Saute cabbage as a base and add in all of those remaining veggies in the drawer in the fridge that you don’t quite have enough of for a dish full. Two diced carrots, those 8 remaining green beans, half a zucchini. This makes a colourful, attractive, tasty vegetable dish.

  4. Make a lazy cabbage roll casserole. Spare the work of rolling and instead make this lasagna-type dish using layers of cooked cabbage with rice, ground meat and canned diced tomatoes. A hearty serving makes a complete, balanced meal in itself.

  5. Eat Asian greens. For example, a large bag of bok choy is typically affordable and is a great alternative to broccoli in a stirfry while we wait for local, more affordable options to return as we get closer to spring and summer.

  6. Look for deals in the frozen aisle. If you have the freezer space, watch for sales on frozen Brussels sprouts, green peas or mixed vegetables. These are great served on their own and also work nicely in the idea in point #3 above.

  7. Although ‘clean eating’ is on our minds, this doesn’t mean every single item in the middle aisles of the grocery store is bad. Canned tomatoes are often on sale and make a great base for an Italian-esque saute of tomatoes, green beans and zucchini. Canned corn kernels combined with black beans, a vinaigrette and southwest seasonings makes a quick salad. Look for canned goods with a short ingredient list and still keep an eye on sodium levels here. Rinsed and drained canned legumes in general (aka pulses) are awesome to combine with vegetables to stretch them further while adding nutrients, fibre and protein!

  8. Get creative with carrots. Buy them in large quantities to reduce the unit cost. In addition to raw carrot sticks, grate them in coleslaws, leafy green salads, cut into coins and combine with frozen peas, use in curries, soups and stews.

  9. Save every single remnant of vegetables for soup. Celery is crazy expensive right now too. Before it goes limp, dice it and freeze. Do the same with leftover cooked veggies from meals. When you have a few bags of these frozen leftover veggies available, make a hearty vegetable soup.

  1. Potatoes and onions are vegetables too and the affordable possibilities are endless. Soups, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, curries, potato salad, homemade french fries…

If you live where you have available garden space, start thinking about what you might be able to grow this spring and summer to later stock in your freezer for the winter.

If fruit is on sale, for example oranges and apples, stock up. Fruit provides valuable nutrients to keep our immune system strong, especially if our vegetable intake temporarily drops a little.

Avoid becoming a believer in the dangerous myth that healthy eating is WAY more expensive than a junk-based diet. The items in the list below remain affordable staples for a healthy diet and I’m up for a good argument on how affordable healthy eating can be – anytime!

12 Must-have Low-cost Healthy Staples: lentils, carrots, onions, apples, eggs, rice, yogurt, oatmeal, potatoes, canned beans, canned tuna, cabbage

Margaret Prouse also writes wonderfully entertaining weekly columns for which are published in The Guardian, full of lots of tips on food. Here is a recent one:


"Putting even one thing in your shopping basket that's locally produced or organic makes all the difference. It's a votes for the future, for animal welfare, for the environment, for your children's children." -- Sheherazade Goldsmith, British environmentalist, jewellery designer and columnist

More about here here: Wikipedia article on Sheherazade Goldsmith

January 15, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The "Currents: Regional Perspectives on Water" was a good event, and many folks came to it, despite the wind and chill. Eliza Starchild Knockwood described the spirituality of water, biologist Mike van Den Heuvel about problems and pressures on our water supply, and Jocelyn Rankin of the Ecology Action Centre in Nova Scotia discussed what other water policies look like in Canada and current challenges.

Minister Robert Mitchell of Communities, Land and Environment was there, and the executive director (formerly the Assistant Deputy Minister) of the Environment Division Todd Dupuis, but it wasn't a public consultation featuring the Environmental Advisory Council; I am not sure if members of the EAC were there. The Environmental Advisory Council did hear Eliza and Mike present during the consultation times before, and Jocelyn kindly agreed to send her presentation to the EAC today, which is the last day of submissions.


Both Kathleen Casey (MLA from Charlottetown-Lewis Point) and MP Sean Casey were there, and Rustico-Emerald's MLA and Opposition environment critic Brad Trivers was there for part of it. Carolyn Peach Brown and some very engaged students had the idea and organized this well-run event.

Jocelyn mentioned some interesting partnerships with organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, and she also mentioned an organization supporting environmental groups called the Canadian Freshwater Alliance, which is part of Tides Canada. Both look very interesting, and here are links to their websites:

About the Canadian Freshwater Alliance

About Tides Canada

The January 15th Global Chorus essay is by Rachel Parent, a young Canadian who made news for her work to get GMOs labeled in food.

Here is an excerpt:

"The corporate mentality of profit and growth at all costs is having a devastating impact on our planet, from the dying of of our marine life, bee colony collapse, the melting of our glaciers, the deforestation of our rainforests and dislocation of natives, the contamination of our water and soil, and even the loss of control of our seeds and safe food supply. he magnitude of the destruction can be overwhelming!

"But I believe we’re living in a time of historical change, a time of transformation where people finally realize they have the power to make change and bring about positive solutions for our planet and for our very survival." <snip> -- Rachel Parent

Here website is excellent website, for kids and not-just kids:



One picture of Rachel from last year shows her with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and with then-MP and Official Opposition Environment Critic Megan Leslie (who was as helpful as she could be during the Highway Plan B opposition), and certainly a hard working person for many environmental issues. Megan lost her seat in the Halifax Riding in the October 19th election, likely due to the weird way strategic voting worked in our First Past the Post system.

I see on Megan Leslie's facebook page from last month:

"I’m so thrilled to announce to you all that I will be working with the World Wildlife Fund, one of the world’s largest and most respected conservation organizations, as a senior advisor to their Oceans Team here in Canada.

"I’m excited to join WWF-Canada because they understand that you can’t conserve nature or succeed in protecting our environment unless community is part of that conversation. They have been leaders in ensuring that the economic and social needs of communities are met while working toward sustainable conservation gains for nature." <snip>

And I suspect she will make a difference there!

January 14, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Event tonight:

Environmental symposium - "Currents: Regional Perspectives on Water"

6:30-8:30PM, UPEI Student Centre, in McMillan Hall (the largest open room in the building)

from their Facebook event announcement:

In accordance to the provincial Water Act currently in development, the symposium will discuss water from difference perspectives, with speakers providing information related to their own fields of expertise.

The presentations will be followed by a Panel Discussion.

There will be refreshments provided and a door prize.

In addition, there will be a WaterAid Canada display, giving an opportunity for attendees to donate to the cause. Their vision is a world where everyone, everywhere has safe water, sanitation and hygiene. They work with local communities to achieve that. https://www.wateraidcanada.com/

The event is open to the community at large.



Dr. Mike van den Hueval - Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity, UPEI

Scientific perspective on the Water issues in PEI

Jocelyne Rankin - Water Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre, Halifax

State of water in the Maritimes and Lessons learned from Water issues in Nova Scotia

Eliza Knockwood- Abegweit First Nation

Responsibility of Aboriginal Women in caring for water


Public (visitor) parking is available from the University Avenue entrance, and access to other lots. Parking enforcement rules and a campus map are here:

Parking at UPEI info page

Campus Map pdf link

Tomorrow, Friday, January 15th, is the last day to comment to the Environmental Advisory Council about the water act.


If you have any time to look at presentations made to the EAC, here are some of them, from the government's website:


Saturday, January 16th:

P.E.I. Watershed Alliance Annual General Meeting

9AM to about 12:30PM, Hunter River Community Centre.

(RSVP was supposed to be by the 12th, so they have enough coffee and chairs, but I think you can still contact Mary Finch <exdir@peiwatershedalliance.org or (902) 394-0999> to see if there is space)

The usual excellent line-up of speakers:

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”

-- Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French ocean explorer and conservationist (1910-1997)

January 13, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

For January 13th, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote this essay for Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, edited by Todd E. MacLean.

Last year I only sent a small excerpt from it, so here is the entire thing:

"I am a prisoner of hope. And I think that most of us would be that. Why? Well, simply because we have faced many other crises in the history of the world and have almost always, ultimately, survived and succeeded.

"For instance, look at the whole question of slavery. There must have been a time when people believed firmly that this was a social system that was totally unchangeable. But we’ve massively diminished slavery. We in South Africa have been able to overcome apartheid and racism. All the wars, conflict, gender/equality issues and even genocide of the past century, we have endured and overcome. So, it is clear that we have the capacity. What we often lack is the political will.

"Take our incapacity to feed everyone on Earth, for example. We have got the means. We can feed every single person on Earth. But we do not have the appropriate political will to do so. With regards to the whole question of the environment, people are campaigning very, very powerfully for us to adopt ways of life that are sustainable. But even though politicians buckle to certain pressures, they are beginning more and more to realize that it is far better to be looking for renewable ways of producing energy. And many people are beginning to see that it is not just healthier, it is the one way in which our Earth home is going to be preserved. If we don’t wake up to our responsibility, we won’t have a second chance. This is the only home we have. If we destroy it, we’re done for.

"A person is a person through other persons. None of us can survive just as solitary individuals. We are made for togetherness, we are made for co-operation, and we ultimately exist in a delicate network of interdependence. None of us comes fully formed into the world. In the same way, even the most powerful nation in the world depends ultimately on interconnectedness. You can’t just live within yourself; no country can do it, no community can do it, no person can do it. Our world must heed this truth to harmoniously move forward." — Archbishop Dessmond Tutu, South African human rights activist

Have a great snowday,

January 12, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Last week's provincial cabinet shuffle is likely to have other, less obvious effects, including the make-up of some legislative standing committees, as Ministers are usually not on these committees. As of last week, the two new cabinet ministers (Tina Mundy and Robert Henderson) sat on several. Of the nine Legislative Committees:

Agriculture and Fisheries -- Robert Henderson is chair, and Tina Mundy is on it

Education and Economy -- Tina Mundy is chair, (Henderson is not on this one)

Communities, Land and Environment (both are on it)

Infrastructure and Energy (Mundy only)

Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privilege (both)

Neither is on Public Accounts, Legislative Management, Democratic Renewal, nor Health and Wellness Committees.

As you can guess, the five to seven seat Committees have a ratio of Government and Opposition members pretty much reflecting that of the Legislature's makeup. Government backbenchers Pat Murphy (District 26: Alberton-Roseville), Sonny Gallant (District 24: Evangeline-Miscouche), Bush Dumville (District 15: West Royalty-Springvale), Kathleen Casey (District 14: Charlottetown-Lewis Point), Janice Sherry (District 21: Summerside-Wilmot) and Jordan Brown (District 13: Charlottetown-Brighton) sit on several Committees, along with usually two Opposition members, and Third Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker is on all nine committees. This week there are four committee meetings scheduled, three being open to the public, and the fourth in an "in camera" or private meeting of the Democratic Renewal Special Legislative Committee (according to the schedules released by the very informative Legislative Assembly website and by Bevan-Baker's office on his weekly schedule).

The schedule of next meetings, make-up of committees, transcripts, and the reports submitted to the Legislative Assembly are all here:


One gets the idea the committee members take their work very seriously and try to explore issues that affect the province but that MLAs don't have time nor the expertise to explore otherwise. (I am not sure how effectively then the Legislative Assembly takes all committee recommendations all the time.) I think it also helps these MLAs understand some issues more deeply.

You can ask your MLA what he or she does on any committees, and remind them of issues important to you. Members of the public are welcome to sit in the Gallery for most committee meetings; it's all very cozy now since the Assembly moved to the Coles Building and committee meetings take place in the J. Angus MacLean building at the corner of Great George and Richmond Streets.

The Committee on Health and Wellness meets today at 11AM,to discuss their work plan for this year, at the J. Angus MacLean Building. The home page of the Legislative Assembly lists meetings for the week in a "What's New" sidebar.


“Earth is ancient now, but all knowledge is stored up in her. She keeps a record of everything that has happened since time began. Of time before time, she says little, and in a language that no one has yet understood. Through time, her secret codes have gradually been broken. Her mud and lava is a message from the past. Of time to come, she says much, but who listens?” -- Jeanette Winterson, author

January 11, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Three water-act related announcements:

1) The last day the Environmental Advisory Council is accepting comments from the public regarding the drafting of the provincial water act is Friday, January 15th.

wateract@gov.pe.ca and http://www.gov.pe.ca/wateract/index.php?number=1051824&lang=E

2) An event this week:

Thursday, January 14th, 6:30-8:30:

Environmental Studies Symposium -- "Currents: Regional Perspectives on Water"

UPEI, Student Centre Building, McMillan Hall,

Mike van den Heuval, biologist; Jocelyne Rankin, Ecology Action Centre (NS); and Eliza Starchild Knockwood will be on the panel.

3) Another water act-related event in a couple of weeks:

Thursday, February 4th, 7-9PM:

Inaugural Don Mazer Arts and Sciences Lecture: Water Acts and Poetry

UPEI, McDougall Hall Auditorium (Room 242)

"In a timely visit to PEI, Dr. Rita Wong -- professor at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, watershed researcher/activist, poet, and multi-media artist -- will give a presentation <snip> entitled 'Humble Autonomy: Renewing Culture through Participatory Water Ethics,' <snip> the inaugural UPEI Don Mazer Arts and Science Lecture and is presented by the faculties of Science and Arts. Her talk will focus on Vancouver, with ample time afterward for the audience to discuss parallels with PEI. A reception with refreshments will follow."

Mark Boyle is author of The Moneyless Manifesto, and his January 11th essay in Global Chorus is inspiring.


<snip>"What I do know is this: any hope we do have <of facing our world's challenges> lies in our willingness to stand up to the challenges we face and the forces driving them, with skilfulness, intelligence, dignity, honour and great heart. Now is not the time for half-measures or cowardice. Now is the time for effective action.

"This will involve billions of people doing billions of different things. We need everyone courageously following their calling, and sharing their unique gift with the world as passionately as they dare. There is no one right way to act, no prescription. Simply do what you love and be of service to life."<snip> -- Mark Boyle

January 10, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Back in the fall sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, which started out so robust, the Opposition tabled Motion No. 46, "Prince Edward Island Infrastructure Summit", calling on the province to "convene a Prince Edward Island Infrastructure Summit at the earliest opportunity to bring together representatives from the Island municipalities and communities, as well as key stakeholders in the economic and environmental sectors..." and that Summit be charged with a "...specific mandate to collaboratively identify priorities and projects that can be the basis...." Full Motion No. 46 here.

The Motion was proposed by District 18: Rustico-Emerald MLA (and Tory Environment Critic) Brad Trivers and seconded by Darlene Compton (District 4: Belfast-Murray River). It was an excellent idea: figure out a collaborative way to hear, list and rank projects for tight times; keep in mind climate change and long-range thinking in addition to community needs, instead of falling into old patterns of large projects providing short-term windfalls.

But the idea of a Summit was largely shot down by Government, as they said they already consult with the Federation of Municipalities. Though a useful organization, it's not very broad-based or collaborative, really, for this kind of long-term planning. In the end, I lost track of what the actual fate of the Motion was, but I think debate adjourned due to the time running out one evening, and was not resumed in what turned out to be a not-so-vigorous sitting.

Yesterday, on CBC Radio's "The House: The Week in National Politics", Craig Alexander from the C.D. Howe Institute gave a very understandable interview about the budget and the economy. He suggested that the federal government hold some sort of infrastructure summit to collaborate and then rank projects, instead of things being all willy-nilly and just going to who has the loudest voice or claimed to be "shovel-ready", as was the case in 2008. Hmm.

So maybe this idea will be visited again for our Province. Trivers (who was very attentive to many details in his critic portfolio and in local issues this session) could work during this time between Sittings to communicate with the Leader of the Third Party and with Government, to propose and get it going. Islanders need willingness on the part of Government to consider this idea and get started on it; this would be the kind of government we want and we expect.

CBC web article from November:


Some Bonshaw area events:

Tonight: Co-Housing talk at Bonshaw Community Centre, 7PM, more details from Facebook here.

And needing registrations ASAP:

Reclaim-Reuse-Recycle -- Free Upcycling Furniture Project with Fred MacKenzie

The Argyle Shore W.I. is hosting a LEAP project for people 50 years and older starting Tuesday, January 19th, 1-3PM, and continuing January 26th, February 2nd and 16th, at the Argyle Shore Community Centre.

There is no cost for you as the project is funded by the PEI Dept. of Education, Early Learning and Culture and administered through the PEI Senior Citizens' Federation.

This project is designed to teach the art of upcycling by learning how to paint, distress and varnish a piece of furniture to create a new look. The artist/instructor is Fred MacKenzie, whom many of you may know from her other workshops and her demonstration at various Women's Institutes.

The session is free, but you must:

  • be 50 years or older

  • commit to attending all four sessions (Tuesdays, 1-3PM, January 19th and 26th, February 2nd and 16th)

  • bring your own piece of furniture the first day, but it can be left at the Community Centre for the duration of the project (other materials provided).

For further information or to register, please call Diana Lariviere at (902) 675-3221 or e-mail cawlar@bellaliant.net

Limited to 10 participants, so contact Diana to register, and names will be drawn.


A Sunday Thoreau quote:

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” -- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

January 9, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are today open in Charlottetown and Summerside.

The wonderfully creative and communicative Pauline Howard posted this on the P.E.I. Food Exchange Facebook page (edited to add non-facebook links -- original post here):

Hungry for locally produced food? While most of our diversified small PEI farmers are curled up drooling over their seed catalogues and planning for the 2016 growing season, you may be suffering from withdrawal symptoms for local produce. Here's some ideas where you can get your fix. Just Plate It has a winter CSA. Olde MacKenzie Farm, Crystal Green Farms. Greenhouse tomatoes and cucs from Schurman family Farm (also available at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market). Also look out for http://redsoilorganics.ca/ and http://www.brookfieldgardens.ca/ at a grocery store near you.

Lorna MacPhersson captures what many of us are feeling about Canada Post in this op-ed piece in yesterday's Guardian (bold is mine).

It's Time for Canada Post to Deliver - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Lorna MacPherson

Published on The Guardian's website on Friday, January 9th, 2016

We should have seen it coming when Canada Post moved our sorting station from Charlottetown to Halifax.

Imagine, you mail a letter in Charlottetown to go to another address, also in Charlottetown, and your letter is taken to Halifax, sorted, and then returned to Charlottetown.

The sheer stupidity of it boggled my mind, and left me waiting for the other shoe to drop! It did when it was announced that home mail delivery would be replaced with community mailboxes.

I am left wondering if anyone in Ottawa has heard the voice of the majority when they either signed a petition, wrote or phoned their MPs, voted in another party in the federal election and/or complained as I am doing here about the change of home mail delivery to community mail boxes!

Are we to seek an attorney to launch a class action lawsuit on the grounds of discrimination, because it depends where you live in order to receive home delivery?

Or, fight it on the basis that we are the only G-8 country that has stopped home delivery in urban centers!

Why did we bother to send VIPs to the costly Paris Conference regarding climate change and in our own country several efficient and knowledgeable former letter carriers lost their jobs?

In the Charlottetown area alone, 25 service vehicles were purchased to deliver mail to these locked boxes — Canada Post certainly wasn’t thinking about any cost saving, our carbon footprint or the lasting affect of axing so many jobs.

Our mailbox has frozen on three occasions now. Canada Post wants us to supply our own lock de-icer or use a barbecue lighter to solve their bungled lock purchases.

Who’s going to reimburse us? If they are freezing at these moderate temperatures, what will happen when we reach –40 C degrees?

These boxes were not fitted with locks made with our winters in mind but would be more suited to an indoor lobby of a housing complex. Will provincial governments be prepared to pay for yearly repairs to the property owners where cars, stopping to get their mail, have left huge tire gouges?

Because the boxes were placed where safety was not taken into consideration, who will be paying for the accidents that will happen when six-foot snow banks block the vision of oncoming vehicles or pedestrians?

Will the federal government lower our taxes because we’re getting fewer services than others are receiving?

The postal service is a Crown corporation. I believe that in its mandate, the management is to follow the directives given to them by the federal minister. Perhaps it is now time for our new Liberal government to follow up on their election promise to reinstate home delivery service!

Failing that, the minister in charge should fire the current CEO and the 10 vice-presidents and hire their replacements with persons who have exhibited some logical thinking brain functions.

Even more frustrating, every day on our cablevision is expensive advertisements touting the grandeur management of the post office in small business. These commercials tell us how efficient they are and the program that we are watching is being brought to us by the

Canadian Postal Service.

Please — someone get me a shovel.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year — and a return of our postal service.

Lorna MacPherson of Charlottetown is a former member of a literacy workshop group and an interest in equal postal access for all citizens.


I wrote my MP about this a little while ago and heard back that they are "attempting to get Canada Post to change its policy." If you are concerned about this issue, let your MP know, or remind him again. The e-mail pattern for MPs is <firstname.lastname@parl.gc.ca>

“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.” -- Pope John Paul II (Pope from 1978 - 2005)

January 8, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The news yesterday was about Premier MacLauchlan's Cabinet shuffle. Karen Mair on CBC said we were all ready to scratch a political itch. I think the Compass TV political panel discussed this, and the radio panel this morning on CBC. Perhaps we are scratching this a bit much!

One point is how this affects the makeup of the committees that MLAs Robbie Henderson (District 25: O'Leary-Inverness) and Tina Mundy (District 22: Summerside-St. Eleanors) sit on (as many committee members are backbenchers). Henderson is chair of the Agriculture (homepage for Agriculture and Fisheries Committee is here) for instance, Mundy chairs the Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development. More on committees another day.

In the news recently is that the TransCanada Corporation (the Calgary energy infrastructure company) is suing the United States government for President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline project. This brings up a lot of issues about trade agreements and sovereignty, climate change, and so on.

Here are reactions from a couple of people at the 350.org, the climate change action organization.



Bill McKibben, 350.org co-founder:

“This isn’t going to get the pipeline built, and it is going to remind Americans how many of our rights these agreements give away. The idea that some trade agreement should force us to overheat the planet’s atmosphere is, quite simply, insane. But the oil industry is so used to always winning that I fear this kind of tantrum is predictable. Corporate power is truly out of control.”

Jason Kowalski, 350.org Policy Director:

“This won’t actually help build the pipeline, too late for that. It’s just a greedy and desperate move by TransCanada to try and salvage some of the money they wasted on this ridiculous boondoggle.

The suit is a reminder that we shouldn’t be signing new trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership that allow corporations to sue governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground.

TransCanada is wrong about the State Department’s analysis of the pipeline. The Department was clear that under a low oil price scenario like the one we’re currently facing the pipeline would significantly increase emissions. You can’t transport 800,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest fuel on the planet and not have a climate impact.

The Obama Administration was completely justified in rejecting the pipeline on climate grounds. They should now extend the same climate test applied to Keystone XL to all future infrastructure projects rather than taking each on a case by case basis. That would send a clear signal to industry and investors that business as usual is no longer acceptable.

The fight against Keystone XL fired up the climate movement like never before. We’re more than happy to keep thrashing it out with the likes of TransCanada–it will only bring more people into the struggle to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”


And another quote from Bill McKibbon, from a recent Global Chorus essay

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

We can all change the odds a little bit, too.

January 7, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A water forum in one week:

Thursday, January 14th, 6:30-8:30PM

"Currents: Regional Perspectives on Water -- Environmental Studies Symposium", UPEI, Student Union, McMillan Hall.

There is about one week and a day left to comment on water on P.E.I. before this phase of the consultation ends.

Various places to send comments are here:

Government's water act "We want to hear from you" page

The title of the page says "...through December 2015" but the Minister extended that until January 15th.

A few more written and slide-show presentations are on the provincial water act website "Presentations" page

including Darcie Lanthier's presentation, from the last public meeting.

Some of that material and more are on the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water website.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the Citizens' Alliance, but in case you are a bit of a Star Wars fan, and want to review the past six movies but are pressed for time, here is a four minute Lego stop-action YouTube video synopsis, a rollicking ride:


Back to serious stuff. The Global Chorus essay for January 7th is by Gloria Flora, who worked in the U.S. Forest Service. Her work seems very timely with what is happening in Oregon recently. (The Guardian (U.K.) article on Oregon militia in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.)

Gloria Flora now serves as director of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions website http://s-o-solutions.org/people.html

The website on Sustainable Obtainable Solutions ("A not-for-profit organization dedicated to the sustainability of public lands and the plant, animal and human communities that depend upon them.") describes:

Gloria Flora - In her 22-year career with the U.S. Forest Service, Gloria Flora became nationally known for her leadership in ecosystem management and for her courageous principled stands. As supervisor of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in north-central Montana, she made a landmark decision to prohibit natural gas leasing along the spectacular 356,000-acre Rocky Mountain Front near the Bob Marshall Wilderness, a place often described as an American Serengeti for its abundant populations of wildlife, birds and fish.

In 2000, she made national headlines again when she resigned as Forest Supervisor of the largest national forest in the lower 48 states - the Humboldt-Toiyabe - to call attention to antigovernment zealots engaged in the harassment and intimidation of Forest Service employees and destruction of natural resources on public lands.

In 2001, she founded and now directs Sustainable Obtainable Solutions, an organization dedicated to the sustainability of public lands and of the plants, animals and communities that depend on them. Flora's continuing work to protect the Rocky Mountain Front has resulted in significant successes such as a permanent ban on future leasing, retirement of many existing leases and a reduction of motorized travel.

Part of her essay:

"Refuge now isn't simply reaching higher ground. Our refuge lies in co-operation with neighbours: human, animal, trees and microbes.<snip> Permaculture tells us to care for the Earth, care for people and fair-share the surplus: we would be wise to listen." -- Gloria Flora

January 6, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here are some future events and their descriptions, if you have your 2016 calendar handy :

Saturday, January 9th, 2PM:

Cinema Politica Movie: Mars at Sunrise

The Guild, 111 Queen Street, Charlottetown

"Filmed in 2013 <snip>, the film portrays the conflict between artists on either side of Israel’s militarized borders, and explores how a powerful creative mind survives, and even thrives, under pressure. When Azzadeh, a young Jewish American poet, travels to Israel to see the land and people she has only ever heard about through the voices of others she uncovers stories of Israeli soldiers who reflect on the complexity of their military service; Palestinian families who are displaced and wedged between walls; and artists from both cultures who strive to paint a picture of life surrounded by conflict. Another artist, Azzadeh, tells the story of his arrest and torture when he refused to collaborate with Israeli Intelligence. Through this resistance, courage and spirit, we learn that an artist can never be imprisoned."

Everyone welcome. Admission by donation. Facebook event info.


Sunday, January 10th, 7-9PM:

Meeting: Co-housing -- Community for the Future?

Bonshaw Community Centre, free.

This is an "informal meeting to talk about planning for all-ages co-housing* in central PEI.

"No charge- please bring your ideas, patience and any resources to share. Snacks optional."

More event information Facebook event info

and more information on co-housing at the website of the Canadian Cohousing Network:



Storm date: Monday, January 18th.


Thursday, January 21st, 7PM:

Symposium: Island Mobility, Migration and Population Issues

UPEI, MacKinnon Lecture Theatre (Room 242), Don and Marion McDougall Hall

The current dynamics of population change in Prince Edward Island will be the subject of <this> Public Symposium to be held <snip>

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

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

Storm date: Friday, January 22nd


Thursday, February 4th, 1-4PM and 7-10PM:

"Meet and Speak" events to discuss sustainable Charlottetown

"An afternoon event ... will engage participants in facilitated roundtable discussions to reflect on the progress made so far and to identify what the priorities are for the next phase of community sustainability. From 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., there will be a community open house event to celebrate progress and gather feedback from attendees. The evening event will be hosted by Global Chorus author, Todd MacLean. Both events are free to the public and will be held at the Delta Prince Edward. There will light refreshments provided."


Also on the evening of the 4th:

Thursday, February 4th, 7PM:

Lecture: Water Acts and Poetry

UPEI, MacKinnon Lecture Theatre (Room 242), Don and Marion MacDougall Hall

from the press release:

Water is a precious necessity that shapes and sustains our lives, yet current and potential watershed problems are a serious challenge both on PEI and globally. The Island is the only Canadian province to rely solely on groundwater for drinking water, and to ensure the continual sustainability and potability of our water, province-wide hearings are currently being held for the Water Act.

In a timely visit to PEI, Dr. Rita Wong -- professor at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, watershed researcher/activist, poet, and multi-media artist -- will give a presentation on February 4 at 7:00 p.m. in UPEI’s McDougall Hall Auditorium, Room 242.

Dr. Wong’s talk, entitled “Humble Autonomy: Renewing Culture through Participatory Water Ethics,” will be the inaugural UPEI Don Mazer Arts and Science Lecture and is presented by the faculties of Science and Arts. Her talk will focus on Vancouver, with ample time afterward for the audience to discuss parallels with PEI. A reception with refreshments will follow.

In addition to research presentations on watershed issues, Dr. Wong, who is remarkably passionate about the issues she investigates, uses poetry -- her primary art form -- to reflect on human relations with water. Her poetry book Undercurrent reminds humanity that “we are water bodies” and that we need to honour this reality.

UPEI is honoured, as well, to be hosting Dr. Wong on February 5th at 7:30 p.m. for a public reading of her poetry, in the Dawson Lounge (Room 520) in Main Building. This reading is sponsored by the UPEI faculties of Arts and Sciences, with funding from the Canada Council for the Arts

Rita Wong grew up in Calgary. Living and working in Vancouver, she became interested in water ethics because of the surprising lack of above-ground streams.

In the earlier part of her career, she was known for her work in Asian Canadian studies and her inter-disciplinary research and multi-media art. For this work, Wong received a major research-creation grant from the Social Sciences and Humanity Research Council of Canada, and once she shifted focus to water issues, she received another SSHRC research-creation grant.

She has won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Asian Canadian Writer’s Workshop Emerging Writer Award, and is renowned for examining relationships among contemporary poetics, social justice, ecology, and decolonization.

Dr. Wong’s water talk and poetry reading come at a vital time for development of PEI’s understanding of water ethics and sustainability. As many Islanders work to modernize our water laws, those who want to gain new perspectives on water’s value will have the opportunity to listen to one of Canada’s important inter-disciplinary investigators of participatory water ethics and watershed issues.

Josie Baker at the Cooper Institute is organizing Seed Saving opportunities:

Seedy Saturdays (Seed Swaps):

Saturday, February 20th, 2-4PM, Confederation Centre Public Library

Saturday, Match 5th, 2-4PM, Montague Rotary Library


Seed Donations: If you have saved some seed this year, and have enough to share with the PEI Seed Library, please bring it in to any public library in PEI, and ask them to send it to the Charlottetown Library (Confederation Centre Public Library) so we can package it up, and share it island-wide!

Germination Testers: Do you want to help save seeds that might be thrown out? Volunteer to be a germination tester! This is a simple process where you test a certain number of seeds to see if they sprout. This would be a big help to test if some of our older seed is still good, or if it should be thrown out. Email me if you're interested, and we'll send some seed to the Public Library closest to you, along with instructions.

Bring Seed Saving to a Library near you! Do you know a couple other people who are interested in starting a seed saving network in your area? We're looking to find a new community library to hold seed swaps and workshops. Email me if you think your community would be fertile ground.

Learn to Teach Seed Saving! This winter we'll be offering training for people who are interested in giving seed saving workshops in their communities across PEI. The training will occur during the winter months, and then the trainees will practice their new skills by each giving spring seed saving workshop. (With lots of help, support, and cheering along the way.) Let's help spread the know-how! If you're interested in participating in the training, email josie@cooperinstitute.ca and let us know where in PEI you live, and a little about your interest in seed saving.

Advanced Seed Savers Wanted! Are you a small farmer, or homesteader who's been selecting and saving seed for a few years already? Get in touch with us if you want to network about improving and selecting for higher quality, locally adapted seed.

For more info contact Josie at (902) 894-4573


Most of these events are listed on the Citizens' Alliance Clearinghouse Calendar:


The Global Chorus 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet essay for January 6th is by Moi Enomenga, a leader of the Huaorani people in Equador; here is an excerpt:


"We started to think of ways to keep people here in the community and not to lose our identity. People call it tourism, but what we see is a way to keep things form falling apart, of letting people see what is happening to us. <snip>

"Here, we don’t have what other people in the world have: we don’t have televisions or Internet or cars, and if the cost of having them is that the world – our world – disappears, then we ask ourselves, 'What good are they?' We think people can live more simply and peacefully if they want, but we don’t know if they want to." — Moi Enomenga

More info on the tours that visit their community: http://blog.destinationecuador.com/?p=203

January 5, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Biomass -- it's a complicated fuel source.

And maybe not as green as we would like to think. That's the well-researched conclusion of a new report on biomass in the Maritimes.

A CBC article with a link to the report is here:


And the author tweeted:

The report was written by Jamie Simpson, a forester, lawyer and former executive director of East Coast Environmental Law. (If the name is familiar, he has been on the Island as the guest speaker at the ECO-PEI annual general meeting last year, led a workshop on environmental rights the year before, and spoke at a forum on cosmetic pesticide municipal bylaws a couple of months before that.)

I haven't read more than the conclusions yet, and Section 5 which is about P.E.I., but from what I have read of his about this issue before in the small but powerful Atlantic Forestry publication (which is printed below with his permission), it's not the best basket to put a lot of a province's energy planning eggs in, especially for electricity generation.

It is in the P.E.I. Renewable Energy Act (1988) to try to get to 15% of electricity from renewable sources (including biomass) by 2010. It appears that fortunately the biomass in this equation hasn't been pursued. My understanding is that biomass is used for heating some government institutional buildings, primarily (and of course wood used for heating residential private homes). It's not as "carbon neutral" as we would hope it would be, and the current amount and certainly any expansion should be done with extreme care in our debilitated woods. (And we keep missing the forest for the trees by not working on maximizing energy efficiency first.)

Here is the short, older article with some good background on biomass in general:

Biomass Energy: Does burning our forests for electricity really reduce carbon emissions? - Atlantic Forestry Review article by Jamie Simpson

Originally published in Atlantic Forestry Review,(DvL Publishing, Bridgewater, N.S.) May 2015

shared with permission of the author

“Burn a tree, grow a tree. It’s simple, Jamie!”

So said an exasperated Natural Resources minister to me once. At a conceptual level, his argument sounded sensible. While the burning of fossil fuels results in a one-way flow of carbon into the atmosphere, the carbon released into the atmosphere by burning one tree should be offset by carbon taken up when a new tree grows and takes its place – or so it might seem. Based on this simplistic premise, governments around the world – including Nova Scotia – have introduced policies to encourage biomass energy development, buoyed by the hope of reducing carbon emissions while creating demand for low-value forest products.

It's important to note that nowhere in the world is forest biomass electricity development driven by the energy market; the feasibility of these projects so far depends on some manner of government policy support. When representatives for Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI) were asked whether the company would pursue the Point Tupper biomass project if not for the province’s renewable energy requirements, the answer was a definite “no.” Why not? Cost and risk, of course. The government’s regulated targets for increased renewables provided an opportunity for NSPI to shift that extra cost and risk to Nova Scotian rate-payers.

Given that forest biomass electricity hinges on government support, it's worth asking what we are getting in return for assuming these costs and risks – not to mention the negative effects on our forests and our value-added hardwood industries. If the government's intention is to reduce our carbon emissions, then we have a right to know whether Point Tupper actually delivers this benefit.

As it turns out, the assumption that forest biomass electricity reduces carbon emissions is rather brittle. The dynamics of forest regeneration, carbon emissions, and biomass energy are not as simple as the “burn a tree, grow a tree” argument. Although this is counter-intuitive, burning trees to make electricity can put more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal, at least for the next few decades. Burning trees to heat buildings, however, may reduce carbon emissions. Yes, it's complicated.


There are three key issues at play here. The first thing to consider is the time it takes a forest to soak up carbon from the atmosphere after biomass is harvested and burned, and whether the forest is even able to soak up an equivalent amount of carbon. The lag time between biomass burning and carbon take-up is important, because we need carbon reduction now, not decades down the road. Scientists tell us that if we can’t get a handle on carbon emissions in the near term, future reductions may not provide much benefit.

Furthermore, because biomass is often produced by clearcutting stands that would otherwise be uneconomical to harvest, the development of this sector may decrease the average age of our forests. Because older forests contain far more carbon than younger forests, biomass harvesting can result in a one-way flow of carbon from our forests to the atmosphere.

A Princeton University scientist named Timothy Searchinger, along with 12 of his colleagues, wrote about this way back in 2009, in an article in the journal Science, titled “Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error.” They made the point that land used for biomass fuels may, over the long term, store less carbon per hectare than it did before biomass harvesting. The upshot is that burning forest biomass results in immediate carbon emissions which may or may not be taken up by the forest decades in the future.


The second part of the biomass energy equation is how efficiently trees are converted to energy. Burning wood to produce heat, for example, can be 80 percent efficient or even a bit higher. Burning wood to generate electricity, on the other hand, is far less efficient, in the neighborhood of 21.5 percent. Some biomass electricity facilities can put waste heat to use, thereby increasing their efficiency.

By supplying some thermal energy to Hawkesbury Paper, its pulp mill neighbor, Point Tupper, when operating under its best case scenario, can achieve 36 percent efficiency. In other words, of the 50 truckloads of wood delivered to that plant daily, at least 32 truckloads are wasted, quite literally, up the smokestack. (Of course, the carbon from all 50 truckloads goes into the atmosphere, regardless of how much energy is produced.)

Finally, the third issue at play is the carbon intensity of the fuel being replaced by biomass. For example, choosing between biomass and coal is far different from choosing among biomass, coal, and natural gas. Electricity from natural gas is far cleaner than coal, and coal is cleaner than wood, on the basis of carbon released at time of burning per unit of energy produced.

A team of forest biomass energy researchers in Massachusetts found that under a best-case scenario (low-impact forest harvesting; use of biomass for heating rather than electricity; and replacing the dirtiest of the fossil fuels), forest biomass can become carbon neutral in as little as 10 to 20 years. However, under a worst-case scenario (clearcutting; burning wood for electricity; and replacing the least dirty of fossil fuels), the researchers found that forest biomass would not become carbon neutral within a century.

To put these results in perspective, the researchers offered a snapshot of estimated emission levels in 2050 (assuming that the forest actually does eventually sequester all of the carbon released). Replacing a coal-fired power plant with a biomass electricity plant would result in a three percent net increase in emissions by 2050, and replacing a natural gas power plant with biomass would result in a 110 percent net increase in emissions. Replacing an oil-fired heating system with a biomass heating system, on the other hand, could result in a 25 percent net reduction in emissions by 2050. These are rough numbers, of course, but so far no one has refuted the researchers’ methods.

Researchers in Ontario, studying the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest region, ended up with similar results. Jon McKechnie and his fellow researchers found that replacing coal-fired electricity with forest biomass electricity would increase carbon emissions for some 16 to 35 years. These researchers also investigated converting trees to ethanol to be used as a substitute for gasoline, and they found that this would increase carbon emissions for more than a century.


Researchers in Norway have taken the biomass energy question to another level. Bjart Holtsmark noted that previous studies had failed to account for the impact of repeated biomass harvests. He found that when multiple biomass harvests on the same piece of land are factored in (based on the forest reaching economic maturity), net carbon emissions from forest biomass electricity remain higher than coal-fired electricity for some 250 years.

There is also research pointing to reduced productivity in certain soils following some types of harvesting. Once the productive capacity of soil is compromised, the forest loses some of its capacity to sequester carbon. This appears to be the case in Nova Scotia, according to research commissioned by the provincial Department of Natural Resources. Unfortunately, DNR has yet to release the full results of this study.

So far, most governments have clung to their policies that make biomass electricity projects economically viable. Under Nova Scotia's Renewable Energy Standard, biomass electricity still qualifies as renewable, regardless of its actual impact on carbon emissions. But there are signs of a shift. The European Union has recommended that existing biomass energy facilities should emit 35 percent less greenhouse gases than the fossil fuels they replace, and that new facilities release 60 percent less by 2018. The value of these non-binding recommendations is questionable, however, given that the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive and its Biomass Action Plan continue to drive development in this sector.

Massachusetts, on the other hand, has actually adjusted its energy policy based on our new understanding of carbon accounting in relation to biomass. The state introduced a minimum efficiency requirement of 50 percent for biomass energy projects, a minimum of 60 percent efficiency for projects to receive full renewable energy subsidies, and the further requirement that a proposed biomass facility will reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent over its first 20 years of operation relative to a new natural gas facility. If such requirements were in place in Nova Scotia, the Point Tupper plant would not qualify for the special treatment which enabled NSPI to build it and have electricity consumers pick up the tab.


What should we be doing differently? Nova Scotia’s Department of Energy needs to take a hard look at the science of forest biomass energy and carbon emissions, and adjust its Renewable Energy Standard accordingly. If Point Tupper cannot meet a 60 percent minimum efficiency requirement, perhaps it should no longer qualify as a source of renewable energy. Small-scale biomass heating projects, on the other hand, should be further explored for their potential to reduce carbon emissions while reducing our reliance on fuel oil and electric heat.

Furthermore, Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources should introduce forest harvesting regulations to ensure that carbon storage in Nova Scotia’s forests is increasing over time, rather than decreasing. This would also help avoid the detrimental effects on biodiversity which result from clearcutting for biomass fuel.

Given the increasingly apparent negative impacts of forest biomass electricity, it’s time for Nova Scotia to reassess the costs and benefits. We can continue to fool ourselves with simplistic and false assumptions, or we can look at the scientific evidence and start making the difficult but necessary decisions.

"It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit" -- Robert Lewis Stevenson, from Essays of Travel, 1904

January 4, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

I am always surprised by how quickly things get started once the holidays are over ;-)

Here is some information about the second year of what sounds like a wonderfully positive opportunity to meet people, hear interesting topics, learn new skills and add your voice to the discussion:

STARTING Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 5th:

City School course: Cultivating Community Resilience, a 10 week course for all ages.

from their notice:


- Where: City Centre School (Colonel Gray High School).

- When: Tuesdays, from 7:00-8:30, beginning January 5th.

- Fee: $20 ($2 per session). All proceeds go to support the work of City Centre School.

Come to Cultivating Community Resilience to learn about and explore how individuals and groups are working together to build more sustainable societies and communities. A wide variety of topics will be discussed from renewable energy ownership and community governance, to sustainable agriculture and alternative economies. All ages and levels of knowledge and experience are welcome!

The goal of Cultivating Community Resilience is to build active citizenship at the local level and an awareness of our responsibilities as global citizens. We aim to respond to energy vulnerability, climate change, and democratic participation by communicating and providing access to the knowledge and tools necessary for us to cultivate sustainable lifestyles and resilient communities.

Cultivating Community Resilience should be an engaging, educational, and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

*It's completely fine if you aren't able to attend every single session for whatever reason. We're happy to have as many people involved for any number of sessions.

- Sign up today at http://citycentreschool.ca and join the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/communityresilience

For more information, please contact Jordan MacPhee on Facebook or at jordanmacphee@live.com.

From the Council of Canadians last week, and with an e-mail address for Canadians to send comments about the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the Canadian Government.



Trudeau offers an e-mail address to hear from you on the TPP

Published on-line on Monday, December 28, 2015

by Brent Patterson, Political Director of the Council of Canadians

On Oct. 5, during this past federal election, Justin Trudeau issued a statement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) promising, "If the Liberal Party of Canada earns the honour of forming a government after October 19th, we will hold a full and open public debate in Parliament to ensure Canadians are consulted on this historic trade agreement."

The Council of Canadians has stated that this should mean a full public review including a comprehensive and independent analysis of the TPP text by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (that would assess the deal’s impact on human rights, health, employment, environment and democracy), public hearings in each province and territory, and separate and meaningful consultations with First Nations. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has highlighted that, "[Trudeau should also inform] TPP partner countries Canada cannot be bound by the agreement as negotiated, and that public input could result in Canadian demands for changes." <snip>

the rest of the article and the hyperlinks are here:


and the e-mail address is here:


The TPP was talked about a little bit in this Fall's Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly, mostly in relation to potato exports and phytosanitary rules if potato disinfection was discontinued. Agriculture Minister Alan MacIsaac (a dairy farmer), said they were very excited about opportunities for the potato industry and other commodities on November 12th, and that they want to protect supply management commodities.


(page 1276)

and today's agriculture column in The Guardian, reviewing top agriculture stories of 2015, also mentions the TPP and the opportunities it brings.

The idea of being allowed access to new markets but protecting supply management is still not something many of us can get our heads around or feel we know all the details.

For today, from "Moss" Cass, who would be very interesting to listen to in person, I am sure:

“We rich nations, for that is what we are, have an obligation not only to the poor nations, but to all the grandchildren of the world, rich and poor. We have not inherited this earth from our parents to do with it what we will. We have borrowed it from our children and we must be careful to use it in their interests as well as our own. Anyone who fails to recognise the basic validity of the proposition put in different ways by increasing numbers of writers, from Malthus to The Club of Rome, is either ignorant, a fool, or evil.”

-- Moss Cass (Moses Henry Cass), 88 year old paediatrician and former Australian Member of Parliament

More about Moss Cass here:


And about Malthus here and The Club of Rome here

January 3, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

If you have some time and haven't had a chance to write any thoughts to the Environmental Advisory Council regarding the water act, the deadline is Friday, January 15th. wateract@gov.pe.ca or go to: http://www.gov.pe.ca/wateract/index.php?number=1051824&lang=E

The internet and blogs are great because people with brilliant ideas can easily get their writings out; in older days it would be harder to be published and shared, but often essays would be given a coat of polish by an editor.

So, ignoring a few grammatical lapses, this essay is very timely, and does an excellent job making us think differently.


"Over the holidays I was lucky enough to have some spirited discussions with a friend who was visiting, and the subject we kept coming back to was 'economic growth'; not how to achieve it, but how we ever got trapped into believing it was a dire necessity in the first place. The idea is so deeply entwined into the Western psyche that no one ever questions it. Every politician running for anything has to come up with ideas about how they will 'grow the economy' or 'find new markets'. We are consistently told that, however much we may want to protect the environment, we need to balance that protection with 'growing the economy', and it is always the latter that takes precedence. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone on the street who wouldn’t automatically agree with the need to 'grow the economy'. It has become a truism, but an unexamined truism has no efficacy, and examine it we must." <snip>

more at the address above

This beautiful two-minute compilation from David Attenborough's many, many hours on the beauty of this Earth was sent by a very kind person, and is a "wonderful" way to end this holiday time:


This is just a screenshot (link above):

screenshot of "What a Wonderful World" video from David Attenborough, naturalist, and producer/broadcaster of many BBC nature shows.

To highlight one of his many clear quotes about our Earth:

"An understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment."

-- David Attenborough

more on him:

short: http://www.britannica.com/biography/David-Attenborough

more extensive: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Attenborough

January 2, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Charlottetown and Summerside Farmers' Markets are open today, at their usual times.


I had to stop and remember who the sender of this tweet is....she is our federal environment minister. Yes. Yes to both the knowledge that someone takes her job seriously, and yes to her message.

Screenshot of part of Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna's tweet from New Year's Eve, where she used a photo taken at the Paris COP21 meetings a month ago. Though the placement of the folks in the photo looks a bit awkward and photoshopped, it apparently isn't, and shows in the front, from left to right: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard. In the back: AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Conservative environment critic Ed Fast. (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Twitter)

Two Guardian articles:

Guardian #1 -- "Our" Guardian published a humorous "news quiz" in New Year's Eve paper, and they skewer just about every major issue of the past year. This one on any change in electoral system is here:

The final question on the electoral reform plebiscite ballot will be:

a) use the current first-past-the-post method because no one will ever understand other options;

b) we can save money by cutting cards or rolling dice; or

c) cautioning against using mixed member proportional representation, which might actually reflect the wishes of voters, because it makes too much sense, and we prefer skewed majority governments.

I had posted this snippet on Facebook and it generated some discussion -- by voicing it this way, were we subconsciously agreeing with it? I value those opinions, and think this cloak of satire lets The Guardian "address" issues it might not otherwise, and brings more light to the issue. There is a lot of political satire in Canada!

Guardian #2 (The British one) This is an interesting in-depth article from 2014 on what may be causing England to be more vulnerable to floods -- a drainage policy where the goal is to get flowing water out of the area as soon as possible, causing problems upstream and downstream. The attitudes and lack of understanding about water is applicable to us, too, perhaps.

"Drowning in money: the untold story of the crazy public spending that makes flooding inevitable", by George Monbiot.


So many of the Global Chorus essays were fantastic, they will be repeated this year, for certain; there are many thoughtful quotes about Earth that can be shared. Here is one for today, from Mahatma Gandhi:

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”-- Mahatma Gandhi

January 1, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy New Year, Everyone!

A few events to note:

There are lots of levees today, and Charlottetown blogger Peter Rukavina has kindly compiled a readable and printable list, here:


The annual Winter Woodlot tour is the morning of Saturday, January 30th. More details here.

LEAP Day -- Monday, February 29th, 2016. -- inspired by the LEAP Manifesto movement, we will likely hold some sort of event this night -- not sure what is being planned, but save the date. More on LEAP: https://leapmanifesto.org/en/the-leap-manifesto/

Here is a short list of the "Greenspirations: the top 10 most encouraging eco stories of 2015"


(the article has links to the actual top ten stories)

1) The Pope's Planetary Revolution

The most consciousness-shifting moment of the year: pope Francis's 40,000-word treatise Laudato Si': On Care For Our Common Home. He urged the planet's 1.25 billion Catholics as well as world leaders and the rest of us to start recognizing that "nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves" and that the lifestyles of 20 per cent are literally killing the planet's poorest.<snip>

2) Goodbye, Harper

Seeing the politician who shredded this country's enviro regs turfed was undeniably one of the brightest turning points of the year for a long-beleaguered green movement. A newfound optimism was cemented by a key shift in the political landscape: new PM Justin Trudeau brought in a climate-friendly cabinet with an empowering environmental mandate.

3) A New climate justice tide rises

In the face of a planet on the brink, a big-tent climate coalition of aboriginal leaders, environmentalists, labour unions, racial justice, women's and poverty groups linked arms to give birth to a broader climate justice movement. In Canada, the celebrity-backed Leap Manifesto spelled out the movement's demands for a transition to a fair, green economy. These were echoed by tens of thousands in marches in Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa and some three quarters of a million people in the streets of 175 countries November 29.

4) Paris throws us a lifeline

Yes, the historic climate deal signed by 195 countries falls short and likely won't keep us to 1.5° warming, but they signed it (unlike the Copenhagen fiasco of 09). And as Green Party leader Elizabeth May says "it does more than many of us expected it would when the conference opened... it threw us a lifeline" that may save millions of lives.<snip>

5) More Arctic Relief

When Royal Dutch Shell got the green light for exploratory drilling in the Alaskan waters of the Chukchi Sea, Greenpeace and friends took to kayaks and canoes and rappelled off bridges to stop the drilling. This fall, Shell announced it would "cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future." More Arctic relief in 2015: Imperial Oil, BP and Chevron all announced they're putting plans to drill in the Beaufort Sea on hold. <snip>

6) Divestment fever hits the big time

In its early days, the divestment movement was just a handful of students pressuring universities to dump fossil fuel holdings. Then churches and cities got on board, then billion-dollar investment funds.

7) Microbeads ban the new wave

8) Alberta raises tar sands stakes

(NDP government elected in Alberta)

9) Ontario ups the green ante

Enviros are praising the provincial Libs for passage of the Great Lakes Protection Act and an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) bill.

10) Toronto backs environmental bill of rights


David Suzuki argues we can all agree that clean air, water and food are essential to our very survival. More than 110 countries have signed an environmental bill of rights, so why not us? That question has sparked 100 municipalities (T.O. included) to sign declarations. The game plan is to get the provinces on board next (Manitoba's already down) and then the feds. If we can embed the right to a healthy environment in the Charter, says Suzuki, "it changes the whole game.”

Full stories and links here.

Some essays from Global Chorus are too good and all or parts can be shared again:

A bit of Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet -- as the January 1st essay was by naturalist Jane Goodall, and she has written the forward on the revised edition, which apparently came out on-line and in U.S. bookstores this past October.

"I am inspired by today’s youth. Once young people are aware of the problems around them and empowered to take action, their energy, determination and commitment are boundless. They are changing the world one problem at a time, encouraging each other, influencing their parents and grandparents. They will be the next doctors, lawyers, politicians and parents, and they know that while we need they know that while we need money to live, we should not live for money. The human spirit is indomitable. We shall not give up."

-- Jane Goodall