January 2018

January 31, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This is Bell's "Let's Talk" day, when the telecommunications giant promotes conversations about mental health issues, and portions some money to a Community Fund, which provide grants to registered charities.


Every day of the year, Islander (but now working in Nova Scotia with invasive species research in Truro) Sarah Stewart Clark talks mental health and networks with Islanders through the Island Mothers Helping Mothers Facebook group, and advocates for better mental health supports on the Island. She coordinated the #HowManyWade initiative, also, bringing to focus families' painful stories of where the mental health system is failing. (MLA Sidney MacEwen eloquently shared some of these during the Tuesday, December 19th, 2017, Question Period of the P.E.I. Legislature, to the inattention, heckling, and embarrassed laughter of some of the government MLAs. Video page.

Question Period Hansrad (transcript) for that day.

Sarah's (paid) work is discussed as this part of the CBC show Land and Sea:



from last week:


LETTER: Prince Edward Island political scene is changing - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor

by Vision PEI member

Published on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

It appears to us that a number of factors and events have converged over the past few years that have triggered a sea-change in the Island political scene. A wave is sweeping the Island from tip-to-tip.

Money, (lots of it), and integrity (or at least the lack of it) are at the heart of it.

It began with the PNP under the Tories, continued and accelerated with e-gaming under Robert Ghiz and the Liberals. And now, we have a premier who has covered up many past and current questionable activities. It boils down to cronyism, special treatment of insiders and oh so much secrecy. Islanders are fed up. We sense this, we know this, it is a palpable entity gathering strength day-by-day.

Vision PEI has a Facebook page where we post news stories and P.E.I.-authored opinion pieces almost daily. Some fall flat, but others clearly and succinctly address the real concerns of Islanders and go viral.

Upwards of 30,000 Islanders, committed voters all, we would suggest, have accessed these posts. The numbers keep growing. Amazing, considering that approximately 90,000 Islanders voted in the last election.

The feedback is consistent: “enough” they say, “we’ve had enough of old politics. We want progressive governments that deal with real people issues. We want ethical, open, transparent governance; we want an economy built on P.E.I.; we want a healthy environment.”

These are the three key, consistent messages. We do not intend to abandon our non-partisan position, but suggest that at the present time only the Green Party, and some individuals within the PC party, have offered these commitments.

Our current system of party politics and first-past-the post elections is anathema to progress, vision and long-term planning. Islanders know this; the recent District 11 by-election results support this reality.

We notice even more positive change.

We all know the old adage here on P.E.I.: “People vote like their parents did.” Yes, that was perhaps an overblown truism for many decades but change is in the air.

Our aging population has become less unwavering when it comes to party loyalties. Enhanced communication, access to social media is the most likely catalyst for abandoning long-held, rigid political positions. Combined with the enthusiasm and awareness of our youth, we are moving rapidly towards a new political paradigm.

The Liberals and Tories must attempt to comprehend and cope with the new realities, like it or not. Both caucuses have good people, we know them. We know they entered politics with honourable intentions only to be caught up in a system that favours party over people. Their voices are muted. The most they can offer to their constituents are platitudes and band-aids.

“Be loyal to the party and the premier,” the behind-the-scenes, self-serving insiders insist. But that is yesterday’s game.

Change is coming, those who embrace it will be remembered and cherished.

--Vision PEI members –

Dale Small, David Weale, Kevin Arsenault and Wayne Carver




29. Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap.

People sometimes worry that sharing a bar of soap is less sanitary than sharing a bottle of liquid soap. But think about it: the bar soap gets rinsed off every time you use it. The plastic pump? Not so much. Where do you think the most germs are accumulating?

We have excellent soap makers on this Island.


Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. Evo Morales

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/evo_morales_482008

"Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans."

--Evo Morales, Bolivian statesman

Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. Evo Morales

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/evo_morales_482008

January 30, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today is the last day to pre-register to be included in a focus group for either business owners in or residents of the town of Cornwall "to provide input on measuring the impact of the Trans Canada Highway Extension Project". (Doesn't this seem a bit "too little and too late"?)

Eight to ten business owners and eight to ten residents can be included, for each group to have a one hour session next Tuesday evening, February 6th. (see posters, below)

MRSB Consulting Services has been contracted to do the consulting, which apparently would be followed up after the bypass is built, and the information used, if I heard the Chief Engineer Steven Yeo on the radio this morning, help with future big projects.

Here is what Ellen Jones, of the former Hughes Jones Centre which is in the bypass's path, shared:

She blogs about this, here.


Friday, February 2nd, is the last day to give input in the provincial housing survey. It doesn't take too much time; it may not offer enough opportunity for participants to elaborate clearly, though.



An update yesterday from ECELAW (East Coast Environmental Law, which has offered assistance to the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water during the Water Act and with Blue Dot PEI/Environmental Rights on PEI)

Environmental Groups in Court to Intervene in NAFTA Tribunal Overstep - ECELAW update

January 29th, 2018

NAFTA tribunal exceeded its jurisdiction when it made determination on what a Canadian environmental assessment panel can decide, groups say.

OTTAWA — Environmental groups are in court today to help Canada challenge a landmark arbitral award brought under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Chapter 11 provision by American corporation, Bilcon.

A NAFTA tribunal held Canada liable for rejecting a bid by Bilcon to build a gravel quarry in the ecologically sensitive coastal area of Digby Neck, N.S. It is estimated that Canada would have to pay more than $500 million, just for protecting the environment in accordance with Canadian law.

“NAFTA tribunals are only supposed to decide questions of NAFTA law,” said Amir Attaran, lawyer at Ecojustice’s law clinic at the University of Ottawa. “They have no business deciding Canadian law and least of all, ordering Canadian taxpayers to compensate an American corporation because its proposed project threatened the environment. We expect the Federal court to put the NAFTA tribunal in its proper place.”

Represented by lawyers from Ecojustice, East Coast Environmental Law (ECELAW) and the Sierra Club Canada will appear as interveners during the legal proceedings.

“Bilcon had the opportunity to have a Canadian court rule on the federal government’s rejection of its project. Instead the company chose to sue Canada for its decision to follow an independent environmental assessment panel’s recommendation to prioritize protecting communities and the environment, and reject the quarry project,” said Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director of East Coast Environmental Law. “If the tribunal’s decision is allowed to stand, it would signal to local communities that no matter how much damage a project might do, their concerns can be essentially overruled by a NAFTA tribunal decision, at great financial cost.”

Bilcon’s proposal for a 120 hectare quarry on Digby Neck, N.S. was to be located 50 metres from the shoreline to facilitate shipping across the Bay of Fundy. This increase in shipping traffic in an ecologically-sensitive environment could put important species, like the endangered North Atlantic right whale, in harm's way — one of the serious threats considered by the environmental assessment panel.

“If government is committed to strengthening our environmental laws, Canada must reverse this decision and close the trade loophole in ongoing NAFTA negotiations,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “International trade agreements should not supersede the health of Canadians or interfere with our environmental assessment laws and protections.”

Members of ECELAW and Sierra Club Canada Foundation were full participants in the Joint Review Panel that resulted in the decision to reject the proposed quarry — partly on the basis of its adverse impact on the ‘core values’ of the affected communities. The groups provided information and support to the community, brought the concerns to the attention of the public and engaged with experts to provide valuable input on the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the coastal quarry.


Amir Attaran is from Ecojustice, Lisa Mitchell from ECELAW, and Gretchen Fitzgerald is with the Sierra Club Canada and was just here for the Save the Whales event last week.

from: https://www.ecelaw.ca/news/environmental-groups-in-court-to-intervene-in-nafta-tribunal-overstep.html

and the link includes a short "backgrounder" on the situation.


Plastic-Free Life guide step number 28. is "Check the labels of personal care products and avoid ones with plastics."

In Canada, the Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations were published last summer. (from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/chemical-substances/other-chemical-substances-interest/microbeads.html#a4

These regulations will help protect the environment by reducing the quantity of plastic microbeads entering Canadian freshwater and marine ecosystems.

The regulations will prohibit the manufacture, import, and sale of toiletries used to exfoliate or cleanse that contain plastic microbeads, including non-prescription drugs and natural health products. For the purposes of the regulations, plastic microbeads include any plastic particle equal to or less than 5 mm in size. The types of toiletries covered include products such as bath and body products, skin cleansers and toothpaste.

As of January 1, 2018, the manufacture and import of toiletries that contain plastic microbeads will be prohibited unless the toiletries are also natural health products or non-prescription drugs, in which case the prohibition will begin July 1, 2018.

As of July 1, 2018, the sale of toiletries that contain plastic microbeads will be prohibited, unless the toiletries are also natural health products or non-prescription drugs, in which case the prohibition will begin July 1, 2019.

The United States has also banned microbeads about the same time. The Guide also mentions to avoid anything with “polyethylene” listed as an ingredient. And these products are small and often with lots of plastic packaging


Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.

--Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American philosopher and naturalist

January 29, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Movie: Miners Shot Down, 7-9PM, CUPE Boardroom, 29 Paramount Drive. Documentary about the 2012 platinum mine wildcat strike in South Africa, "using the point of view of the Marikana miners, Miners Shot Down follows the strike from day one, showing the courageous but isolated fight waged by a group of low-paid workers against the combined forces of the mining company Lonmin, ANC government and their allies in the National Union of Mineworkers." Hosted by the Canadian Union of Public Sector Employees (CUPE PEI) Global Justice Committee and Cinema Politica Charlottetown. Admission by donation. Facebook event details.

January Community Vegan Potluck, 7-9PM, Haviland Club. Facebook event details.


Saltwire regional columnist Russell Wangersky wrote about right whales last week in one of his columns: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/columnists/russell-wangersky-too-many-wrongs-too-few-right-whales-178551/

Too many wrongs, too few right whales - The Guardian article by Russell Wangersky

Published on Thursday, January 18th, 2018

When whaling was still going on, the one thing you didn’t want to be was a right whale.

They got their name because they were the right whale to hunt: they had thick blubber, so lots of whale oil, and, unlike some whales, the blubber meant the beasts would float after they were killed, making their harvest that much easier.

So, the right whale for hunters, and very much the wrong whale for surviving. (Imagine being named for your value, but only your value after death.)

They haven’t been hunted since 1949, when they were nearly extinct. There’s somewhere around 500 left in the Northern population, making them the most at-risk of all the whales.

And this year, they had a particularly hard time off the Atlantic provinces. Part of the right whale population moved into the Gulf of St. Lawrence last summer, with terrible results: 17 whales died and, of those that have been autopsied, most had died after collisions with ships. (A significant number also died after getting entangled in fishing gear.)

To deal with the rising right whale death total, Transport Canada ordered ships over 20 metres in length to slow to 10 knots as they travelled through part of the Gulf.

CBC News reported this week that, during the period between Aug. 11, 2017 and Jan. 11, 2018, when the ban was in place, 542 ships were reported to have broken that speed limit.

But of those 542, only 14 were fined for exceeding the speed limit. Another 78 are under investigation. The rest of the reported violators? Their cases have been “closed due to insufficient evidence,” a Transport Canada spokeswoman told the CBC.

Now, you can see why the vessel’s owners and captains would want to speed.

Travelling at 10 knots is hardly peak fuel performance (especially for cargo ships that normally travel at around 18 knots). It slows deliveries, and it means you might have to pay extra crew time.

What’s harder to understand is Transport Canada’s reticence in prosecuting the speeders.

The original reports were made by the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services — vessels are tracked during their travel in Canadian waters, and their speeds and locations are monitored by satellite.

Think about that: the locations of vessels are known, followed by satellite and even publicly charted on the internet. (It’s become a problem for crews and vessels hunting for sub-sea treasure, because your competitors always know where you’re working.)

It also means you can track a vessel from point to point and calculate its average speed with a high degree of accuracy. You can also obtain speeds at any point of travel,

Wednesday, for example, you could see that the container ship Zim Alabama was sailing to Halifax at 10.1 knots. The tugboat Theodore Too, heading out from its Halifax port at 7.4 knots. At the same time, the cargo ship Suomigracht was moored near Corner Brook, N.L. The chemical/oil tanker Iver Prosperity was heading down the Bay of Fundy from Saint John, N.B to Boston at 14.1 knots. Half an hour later, it was making 14.4 knots.

And if the internet can garner that kind of detail for free, how detailed is the coast guard’s own vessel tracking? And how much evidence do you need to have?

Imagine being a police officer, pulling over speeders when they break the law, and then giving a ticket to only one out of every five people you catch.

You’re not trying very hard, are you?

And the right whales?

They’re still, sadly, the right whale. The right whale for showing us that, when it comes the environment, money still does the talking.

And the wrong whale to get the kind of protection it deserves.


Here is a link to a map project from some Cape Breton high school students with some background information and great visuals: http://srsbedu.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=4258dc71a38e4a1ebff2a9946b9ecda5#detail


The 27th step toward a Plastic-Free Life is "Use natural rubber gloves," when you want to use reusable "dishwashing" or household gloves. The original suggestions in the blog Beth Terry suggests are not workable for us, but there is a company called If You Care that produces Forest Stewardship Council fair trade latex household gloves at a pretty reasonable price, too. The Amazon listing link is below but the title is incorrect as it is a single pair (not multi-) package. The box with the description of sourcing the gloves is interesting to zoom over and read.



Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented.

--Barry Commoner (1917-2012), American biologist and politician

January 28, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This afternoon:

Bonshaw Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, many performers, light lunch, admission by donation with all proceeds going to the PEI Council of Canadians.


Wednesday, February 7th:

Deadline for Non-Partisan Women to apply for the Leadership Development co-hort for 2018-2019, put on by Winding Path, Inc., and sponsored by the PEI Coalition for Women in Government. There are seats for both party-committed and non-partisan women. (Women in political parties who are interested in the Party positions in the program can contact their party staff or executive. Non-partisan apply at the link, below.) The program is geared not just for women who might want to run for office, but those who would like to take a bigger part in organizing.

from the website information on the link (below):

Designed for women who:

  • are active members of a registered PEI political party, or non-partisan women active in the democratic life of PEI, as elected representatives or organizers

  • are interested in increasing or developing leadership skills

  • have held a coordination or management role within their political party or have some experience in non-partisan political life in PEI

  • want to increase their capacity to take on responsibility within their party or within the democratic life of PEI, either as elected representatives or political organizers

Program Outcomes

  • increased personal and professional effectiveness

  • improved communication skills

  • increased resiliency and persistence in the face of change and uncertainty

  • improved collaboration and problem solving skills

  • improved ability to manage stress

  • increased understanding of gender and diversity analysis

More details and link to the application, here:



And if you are ready to move into a leadership role, or want to encourage someone else:

From the provincial NDP Leadership Search Committee:

January 25, 2018

Greetings to members of the PEI Citizens’ Alliance;

As chair of the New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island Leadership Search Committee, I wish to make your progressive and inclusive group aware that we are seeking candidates able to articulate our Party’s values to fellow Islanders.

We are particularly interested in presenting the choice of a qualified woman candidate to our membership at our upcoming Leadership Convention on April 7, 2018. There is a growing need for social democratic values to be expressed in Island political discourse. The New Democrats have a long and successful history of attracting women leaders both at the national and provincial levels. Audrey MacLaughlan was the first leader of a major national party, followed by Alexa McDonough who led the federal New Democrats after leading the Party in Nova Scotia. Elizabeth Weir led New Brunswick’s NDP.

Hilda Ramsay of the CCF/NDP was the first woman of any political party to run for Prince Edward Island’s Legislature. Doreen Sark has led, and Dolores Crane has been a spokesperson for NDP PEI.

The Party’s success in developing women leaders has resulted from a strategic effort starting from long standing gender parity at the Executive, Provincial Council and Committee levels. Our Party President position is filled on a two year term gender rotating basis. Our gender parity policies are not only a matter of fairness, but aimed to provide platforms and initiatives that will best reflect the needs and aspirations of all Islanders.

The Hilda Ramsay Fund provides all New Democrat women candidates with up to $1,000 support for each of their campaigns.

Please make your members aware of our interest and support for women leadership candidates in the New Democratic Party. Anyone interested should call Herb Dickieson at (902) 856-0259 or contact us at ndppeileadership@gmail.com.


Marian White

Chair, Leadership Search Committee

New Democrat Party of Prince Edward Island


The only declared candidate for the PEI NDP leadership race so far is Joe Byrne, who has a Facebook page for the race, and on it, a 40-second video introducing himself and articulating NDP priorities:



The 26th Step in attaining a Plastic-Free Life is for folks that have a "Swiffer mop" -- use a reusable Swiffer cloth (as opposed to the plastic packaged disposable ones. Beth Terry writes, "If you don’t know what a Swiffer is, don’t worry about it. It’s plastic and you don’t need one" But if you already own a Swiffer mop, you can google "reusable swiffer cloths" and find many choices and patterns if you want to make your own.

The whole website:



This sums things up:

The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth.

--Marlee Matlin, actress and activist

January 27, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open today in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM).

Charlottetown Farmers' Market vendors Amy Smith and Verena Varga of Heart Beet Organics were yesterday honoured with the Gilbert R. Clements Award yesterday by the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, recognizing excellence in sustainable agriculture. Heart Beet works on diversifying and exploring value-added products from what they produce, including kombucha. The kombucha (a fermented tea-based drink), has a small, small amount of alcohol, 0.5%, and the PEI Liquor Commission has warned the restaurant My Plum, My Duck that they are all violating Section 71 of the Liquor Control Act, which states beverages with more that 0.5% alcohol must be sold through the Commission. Are we supporting our local entrepreneurs and trying to figure out overcoming barriers to their success? Is this just being "dumpth", or willfully stupid, and maybe a misreading of the old "greater than or equals" versus "greater than"? Teresa Wright describes the situation in the Guardian, here.


From pages 50-53 of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, published in 1971:

"What's more," snapped the Lorax. (His dander was up.)

Let me say a few words about Gluppity-Glupp.

Yours machine chugs on, day and night without stop

making Gluppity-Glupp. Also Schloppity-Schlopp.

And what do you do with this leftover goo?...

I'll show you. You dirty old Once-ler man, you!"

"Your glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed!

No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed.

So I'm sending them off. Oh, their future is dreary.

They'll walk on their fins and get woefully weary

in search of some water that isn't so smeary."

-- The Lorax

If you don't have a copy in front of you, is in pdf form, here: http://www.chrisrossarthur.com/uploads/3/8/5/9/38596187/dr._seuss_the_loraxbokos-z1.pdf

If I understand the situation, Northern Pulp paper mill, which produces "glossy calendar paper" in Nova Scotia, and with (a lot of) help from the Nova Scotia government will install a new wastewater treatment facility. It'll be in the site of the current holding pond, which instead of just flowing into Boat Harbour, will be piped further into the Northumberland Strait. A couple of scientists (including Mike Van den Heuval, who is doing the water quantity research that the P.E.I. government is hoping helps with writing the Water Act regulations) have weighed in and said this isn't the worst plan; Premier MacLauchlan has written Nova Scotia regarding concern about the export lobster fishery and urging a more robust environmental assessment.

Russell Wangersky, regional columnist appearing in The Guardian, wrote this piece later this week: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/columnists/russell-wangersky-the-politics-of-pollution-180469/

Russell Wangersky: The politics of pollution - The Guardian article by Russell Wangersky

The bigger you are, the more attention you get — some of it good, some of it not so good.

And the bigger an industry player you are, the more attention — and help — you get from government.

It’s an open secret that, if you employ enough people and turn enough money around, especially in rural parts of Atlantic Canada, governments can be exceptionally flexible.

If you’re a fisherman who keeps bycatch halibut that comes up dead in nets fishing for other species, you’re likely to get charged.

But if you’re a new aquaculture operation promising hundreds of jobs, the provincial government you’re dealing with may well speed your project through the environmental process, regardless of the unanalyzed effects on wild fish stocks of your operation.

If you’re a homeowner whose oil tank leaks, you — or your insurer — may eat hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs. But if you’re a paper mill creating a mess that will cost $133 million to clean up, you might find the provincial government willing to cover the cost of cleaning it up for you.

Government subsidization can take many forms: it might be direct subsidies, like interest-free loans. It might be agreements that significantly slow or delay cleanup of ongoing pollution. It might be waiving or reducing reforestation costs or stumpage fees, or even charging substantially lower water rents for at-sea aquaculture pens.

But the laws of physics say that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

Northern Pulp in Nova Scotia is getting ready to finally replace an effluent system that has been polluting Boat Harbour for more than 50 years.

It’s a plan that’s being met with both skepticism and opposition, and for good reason, not the least of them being that Northern Pulp doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation. It’s overshot air pollution levels pretty regularly, and promises to replace both its effluent and air treatment systems have been long and foot-draggy. (A Boat Harbour cleanup was first promised in 1995, after all.)

The premier of P.E.I. is even stepping into the fray from across the Northumberland Strait, asking both the premier of Nova Scotia and the federal government to ensure there’s a complete environmental investigation of the proposed treatment system, which is set to pipe waste that’s gone through aeration and settling processes through a pipeline for dumping in the Strait.

The Nova Scotia government currently has the project going through a relatively-fast Class 1 environmental assessment — ostensibly, because it’s an existing operation. So, quicker review for a mill that has been a long-term polluter.

There are, of course, potentially even more tangly issues on the horizon. In 1995, the Nova Scotia government agreed to pick up the tab for the eventual cleanup of that site, now estimated at $133 million. Those cleanup costs will only crystalize now — and may get the attention of the U.S. Commerce Department, which recently slapped a broad set of duties on Canadian newsprint producers, citing a broad range of government assistance that had been determined to be unfair subsidies.

As the Commerce Department put it, “Imports from companies that receive unfair subsidies from their governments in the form of grants, loans, equity infusions, tax breaks, and low-priced production inputs are subject to ‘countervailing duties’ aimed at directly countering those subsidies.”

The paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, N.S. is only just coming out of a years-long battle over whether or not they were receiving preferential electrical rates. Newsprint mills in Canada are in the midst of a new trade complaint, with interim duties of 6.53 per cent across the board, and other mills, like Corner Brook, N.L.’s mill, being slapped with interim duties of 9.93 per cent.

Governments want to help big employers — that’s a given. But there have to be limits.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 39 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@thetelegram.com — Twitter: @wangersky.

and Don Carroll has an excellent letter expressing what many of us felt reading the Premier's concerns, in Friday's paper: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/letter-credibility-gap-for-strong-stand-180757/

Credibility gap for strong stand? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Premier MacLauchlan is to be congratulated for taking a strong stand on the need to protect the waters of the Northumberland Strait from any unintended consequences of treated effluent coming from the Nova Scotia Northern Pulp plant. I share his concerns.

The Premier’s call for a stronger environmental regime to protect the waters of the Strait might have more credibility, however if his government and the governments before his had not overseen an environmental regime that has led to a massive degradation of P.E.I.’s water resources.

Something has gone horribly wrong. Our current environmental rules, regulations and enforcement have obviously had unintended consequences: annual fish kills, wells contaminated by nitrates and pesticides, anoxic events, estuaries clogged from soil erosion and nitrogen loading and the fact that P.E.I. contributes 95 per cent of the nitrates in the Northumberland Strait (The Guardian September 30 2017). We too desperately need stronger environmental protection for our waters.

So, if Premier MacLauchlan’s statements about the pulp mill effluent signals a newfound concern for our P.E.I. environmental standards and practices, then bravo. If not, his concerns ring hollow.

Don Carroll, Rice Point


The 25th step in moving towards A "Plastic-Free Life"


deals with alternatives to the plastic packaging in products one brings into the home to wash clothes. Soap nuts in plastic-free packaging, borax and washing soda in boxes, and many methods involving some fairly easy homemade tips and concoctions, found through the link above.


The future will either be green or not at all.

--Bob Brown, Australian politician, environmentalist and physician

January 26, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events today and the next few days:


Political Comedy Review and Reception for Al Douglas, Charlottetown mayoral candidate, 5-7PM, The Old Triangle, 189 Great George Street. Dennis King and Gary Evans are presenting stories and comedy.

Tomorrow, Saturday, January 27th:

Note that the Winter Woodlot Tour has been *postponed* until there is more snow. It will be one of these Saturday mornings, at the Strathgartney Equestrian Park in Bonshaw.

Stratford Green Tea, 3-5PM, Now 'n Zen Coffee and Tea House, 17 Glen Stewart Avenue, Stratford. Meet and greet with Green Party MLAs, shadow cabinet critics, council members and all welcome supporters and interested people. All ages welcome.

Jamie's Birthday Party and Lennon House Fundraiser, 6-11PM, Murphy's Community Centre, Richmond Street, Charlottetown. Engaged citizen and organizer Jamie Larkin is hosting a birthday fundraiser with proceeds to Lennon House Recovery Centre

If you can't make the birthday party and bowling, consider making a donation at the above link. Facebook event details.

Sunday, January 28th:

Bonshaw Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, many performers, light lunch, proceeds to the PEI Chapter of the Council of Canadians.

Monday, January 29th:

Movie: Miners Shot Down, 7-9PM, CUPE PEI Division Building, 26 Paramount Drive, off MacAleer Drive over the Charlottetown Bypass. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE PEI) Global Justice Committee and Cinema Politica Charlottetown are hosting.

In Aug 2012 mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days later the police used live ammunition to suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more. Using the point of view of the Marikana miners, Miners Shot Down follows the strike from day one, showing the courageous but isolated fight waged by a group of low-paid workers against the combined forces of the mining company Lonmin, ANC government and their allies in the National Union of Mineworkers.


The set of four dates for public consultation for the construction of an "educational" map of P.E.I. Electoral Districts in a Mixed Member Proportional System (MMP) has been announced. All 6:30PM. Rather spindly, not robust, public consultation for this.

Monday, February 5th, Montague

Thursday, February 8th, Charlottetown (Yes, the ECO-PEI annual general meeting date)

Thursday, February 15th, Summerside

Wednesday, February 28th, Westisle Composite

There are on-line comments accepted, too. More details here.



The next suggestion in reaching closer to a Plastic-Free Life (all found here: https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/ is:

Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges:

  • Compressed natural cellulose sponges are often sold without any plastic packaging because they don’t need to be kept moist; they expand when wet.

  • Coconut coir brushes are great for cleaning water bottles and scrubbing dirty dishes.

  • Skoy cloths are made from cotton and cellulose, work like a cloth, absorb like a sponge, and can take the place of 15 rolls of paper towels.

  • And of course, good old rags made from old clothing and towels are free and probably the greenest option of all.


Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent - a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice - that struggle continues.

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/bernie_sanders_763667

Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent -- a government based on the p rinciples of the economic, social, racial and environmental justice --that struggle continues.

-- Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator

Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent - a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice - that struggle continues.

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/bernie_sanders_763667

January 25, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This morning, CBC Radio, about 7:50AM:

Progressive Conservative Leader James Aylward will discuss ideas for improving the function of the P.E.I. Legislature.


Culture PEI relaunch as "Creative PEI", 6-7PM, The Guild.

from their event listing:

2006: PEI Cultural Human Resources Sector Council

2011: CulturePEI

Thursday: Creative PEI

Join us for a celebration of this important step in our evolution!

Facebook event details


The dead of winter brings broken promises, the flowers held out and then pulled back, from our federal Liberal government.

Last year it was federal promises of electoral reform (more on that soon) and this year it was yesterday's quiet announcement that, no, the Liberals will not reinstate home mail delivery for residents where superboxes and are in use have been installed already.

Sean Casey, Charlottetown MP, is frustrated and apologetic, as he fought for this. He attempted to add a positive note that some people don't mind the boxes and feel pulling them out would be a lot of money. (Someone suggested we leave them as a tribute to the Harper government's apparent attempts to kill Canada Post, or send him the bill for removal.) CBC news story.


A bit on NAFTA and the Investor-State Dispute Mechanism, Chapter 11, from national affairs writer Thomas Walkom, last week, with reference to a study by Islander Scott Sinclair. Good background info not often heard in mainstream media.


The terrible part of NAFTA that Canada wants to keep — for now - The Star article by Thomas Walkom

Ottawa would be wise to bargain away NAFTA's investor-state dispute system, writes Thomas Walkom. It hasn't worked for Canada.

Published on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Canada is going all-out to save the North American Free Trade Agreement. The ruling Liberal government has even enlisted the help of the opposition Conservatives in this crusade.

Rumours suggesting that U.S. President Donald Trump might kill the pact have cast a pall over official Ottawa.

Yet a new study shows that in at least one key area NAFTA has been terrible for Canada.

That study, written by trade researcher Scott Sinclair for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, examines how Canada has fared under a section of the pact that, in effect, allows foreign firms to overturn Canadian laws.

Known formally as the Chapter 11 investor-state dispute resolution system, this section gives foreign companies the right to challenge domestic laws in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. that interfere with their profitability.

The challenges are heard by special NAFTA trade panels that operate outside of the judicial system. The panels’ decisions are binding.

The study calculates that since NAFTA took effect in 1994, Canada has faced 41 Chapter 11 challenges — far more than either Mexico (23) or the U.S. (21).

Of the 17 cases against Canada that have been settled, Ottawa has won nine and lost eight. Mexico has done slightly better, having won seven of its 12 settled cases. The U.S. has lost none.

To date, the entire Chapter 11 fandango has cost Canada $314 million in penalties and legal fees.

But the raw figures don’t capture the full absurdity of Chapter 11. In the cases it lost, Canada was pursuing public policy goals that in most instances were reasonable and in all lawful.

In 2015, for instance, a NAFTA panel ruled that Nova Scotia had no right to prevent an American firm from digging a quarry and building a marine terminal in an environmentally sensitive area. This effectively overturned the decision of a legally constituted environmental assessment panel.

In 2016, another U.S. firm successfully challenged Ontario’s moratorium on building offshore wind turbines in Lake Ontario. That cost the Ontario government $25 million.

While the moratorium was in part politically motivated, it was also within the government’s purview.

On it goes. In 2015, two U.S. energy companies challenged a Newfoundland and Labrador law that required offshore oil drillers to undertake some research and development in the province. The companies won.

In 2011, a U.S. firm challenged an Ontario government decision to prevent it from opening a quarry near Hamilton. That was eventually settled when the government paid the firm $15 million.

In 2009, a U.S. lumber firm that had been granted extensive water and timber rights by the Newfoundland government to operate there shut down its mills in the province and filed for bankruptcy. The government, not unreasonably, took back the water and timber rights.

The bankrupt firm challenged that before a NAFTA panel and won — to the tune of $130 million.

The most recent Chapter 11 case detailed in the study involves the U.S. firm Omnitrax, which owns the railway line to Churchill, Man. on Hudson Bay. The rail line is the only land link to Churchill and has been out of commission since last year because of flooding.

The federal government has threatened to take Omnitrax to court for failing to live up to its agreement to keep the line operable. Omnitrax has responded by challenging Ottawa under NAFTA for decisions made years ago related to the marketing of wheat — decisions that it says reduced the potential profitability of the company.

This is NAFTA Chapter 11. It has hurt Canada and benefitted the U.S. Yet Trump wants to scrap it and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to keep some version of it.

Keeping Chapter 11 is not, however, one of Canada’s non-negotiable demands. Rather, it appears to be quite negotiable. Let us hope that Ottawa quickly agrees to negotiate it out of any deal that might emerge — before Trump wises up and changes his mind.


The 23rd step to a Plastic Free life, or at least reducing a lot of it, from Beth Terry at


"Handwash Dishes Without Plastic --Use baking soda or bar soap. Seriously, I’ve been using baking soda to hand wash dishes for several months now. It scours well and leaves dishes feeling squeaky clean.

For really tough baked-on messes, I use a Chore Boy copper scrubber, which comes in a cardboard box with no plastic."


"There are no right answers to wrong questions."

--writer Ursula Le Guin, (1929-2018)

January 24, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Reactions from yesterday's results in the Citizen-Initiated Plebiscite for Unincorporated residents regarding the Three Rivers Amalgamation proposal:

Paul MacNeill, publisher of The Graphic newspapers, proponent of the Three Rivers initiative and also passionate Rural Island supporter, tweeted yesterday:

"Liberal rural policy: Let communities fight each other. Did it on schools. Doing it on amalgamation. For God sake @WadeMacLauchlan stand up and lead."

You could add health care to that list, too.


Also from yesterday, posted on their Facebook group page, presumably by Richard Toms:

We Are Rural Strong

Rural PEI: A Made in PEI Solution?

Changing the governance of small, rural communities through amalgamation (here read centralization) has the long-term affect of changing the unique characteristics of those same communities. Maybe not immediately, but certainly over a generation. With tourism and the population numbers reaching record highs is there any pressing need to push through this centralization policy? Might this same policy undermine both the tourism industry on PEI and immigration and emigration numbers? Let’s face it, people don’t come to Montague “from away” as tourists to visit the Dollar Stores (with all due respect dollar stores). They come to enjoy the unique character and small town charm of the community. My first visit (16 years ago) I drove directly to the waterfront, I still remember the kind gentleman who stopped his car in oncoming traffic and beckoned me to make a left off Main St. My first instance of Island courtesy and dangerous driving practices lol.

With small communities facing issues of out-migration, centralization through amalgamation could be the coup-de-gras for their economic viability. Policies that seek to centralize education, health care and other services do nothing to encourage rural growth and vibrancy. There are issues that need to be addressed in rural communities to help them grow, but I would argue that moving social-infrastructure to larger adjacent communities is not the solution. Growth happens because there is opportunity, because there is social-infrastructure and because it makes sound financial sense to make the leap into entrepreneurship. I believe this is more likely to happen in a less regulated environment where property is inexpensive. Do we need a rural emigration/immigration strategy, emphatically YES. Do we need to redefine governance through the New Municipalities Act-possibly, but it needs to be done with finesse. The Act needs to fit rural needs and be sensitive to the unique characteristics of the small, rural communities it seeks to help.

One size does not fit all and you don’t cut the man to fit the suit. It is time to re-think amalgamation and to amend the New Municipalities Act that instigated it. Amalgamation has failed to produce positive results in so many other communities in other jurisdictions that I can’t understand why this is the policy government has chosen to import. We need new ideas and initiatives, we need a made in PEI solution to the issues rural PEI is facing.

--from We Are Rural Strong, published on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018, at their Facebook group


A certain quiet wit I know suggested that we have a contest, where people enter their best guess at the words government (presumably the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment) will use to respond to (i.e., dismiss) the results of the plebiscite for unincorporated residents. Send suggestions in a reply to this, or via our Facebook group page.



The main website for the Plastic-Free Life is here:

https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/ and the 22nd tip is "use powdered dishwashing detergent in a cardboard box". If you have a dishwasher and can find powdered detergent for it (I think it may all be "pods" but some in less plasticky packaging. It's a good point to think about anything coming in throw-out standing plastic packaging when an alternative like a boxboard or cardboard box may be available.

And someone reminded me yesterday that Bulk Barn sells baking soda in bulk so you can just get as much as you need (bringing your own container, if you can), and it's very reasonably priced.


The Guardian's (the United Kingdom's one) Climate Change poem series was only 20 poems long, and I am looking for short essays, quotes or poems on climate change/environment to share.

This poem is from the anthology Track & Trace, by Zachariah Wells, given to me by his mother, Lynne Douglas. (c. 2009, published by Biblioasis). A very local Climate Change poem:

Dream Visions of the Flood

by Zach Wells

I must build this house, I must

build this house high on the hill

on borrowed cash, I must build it

now, bring with me all books

worth saving: I dreamed the end

last night, dreamed this three-countied

Island's borders redrawn

by water, green archipelagos of stranded

holsteins on high ground, lowing at insidious

inundation, the mainland bridge

a headed, bobtailed leviathan arched

in Northumberland, whose waters, with the Gulf's,

engorged oxbowed rivers, glutted

ponds into rust-red lakes, filled out hardwrought

valley, a tub with plugged drains,

slowly, while we molded countours of mud, heaping

wet red earth like the swallows under our eaves,

in vain -- only the chimneys left when it settled.

perches for cormorants drying spread wings in the sun.

--Zachariah Wells

January 23, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Crapaud and Area residents have the first daytime medical clinic for the South Shore region beginning today, They had a replacement for Henk Visser, their longtime doctor, but that person soon moved his practice to Cornwall. The medical clinic is at the new Crapaud Pharmacy, near the South Shore Actiplex side of town. Re-establishing a reular medical presence in the village -- something which really improves the quality of life in a rural community -- is due to persistence, and more persistence by folks in the area who have organized to form the South Shore Health and Wellness Committee, including Fran Albrecht and Ian Dennison. The Clinic is now open on Tuesdays morning and afternoons, staffed by area doctors, but the hope is that Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell and all will acknowledge the need for local health care and place a nurse-practioner or family doctor there.


South Shore Chamber of Commerce, 7:30-9PM, Crapaud Community Hall, will feature a representative from the South Shore Health and Wellness committee. All welcome.

Also tonight:

Big Band Tuesday with the Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble, 7:30-10PM, The Purhouse, upstairs of the Old Triangle, 189 Great George Street and Fitzroy, Charlottetown. A ridiculously talented group of musicians and wide range of music to be played. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students and kids free with "adult supervision", as the event details mention. There was a great interview with Doug Millington on Mainstreet yesterday about this monthly Big Band Jazz series, if anyone can find it.

Friday, January 26th:

Fundraiser for Al Douglas for Charlottetown Mayor: Political Comedy Review and Reception, 5-7PM, Old Triangle, with storyteller comedians Gary Evans and Dennis King (Dennis also is on the CBC Island Morning political panel, and those two are part of The Four Tellers ensemble). Tickets: $20 and available here. https://aldouglas.ca/product/fundraiser-ticket/

Saturday, January 27th:

7th Annual Winter Woodlot Tour, 9AM-1PM, Strathgartney Equestrian Park, off the Plan B highway new part on Strathgartney Road (old TCH), free, but donations for future years' tours appreciated. The importance of forests is highlighted, with displays and lots of outdoor activities. Facebook event details.

Save the date:

Thursday, February 8th:

ECOPEI AGM, 6:30-8:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House. The always excellent panel discussion (after the well-run short AGM) focuses this year on Environmental Education.


The Plebiscite results regarding Unincorporated residents' opinions on the Three Rivers Amalgamation plan in Kings County show that they are overwhelmingly against the proposal. Good for the local MLA Steven Myers and others who organized this, as these residents' voices were really not given a chance to be heard in this process, it seems. New Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Richard Brown should take note.


My Plastic-Free Life and related blog by Beth Terry has 100 Steps for getting to that point, and today's suggestion is to "Use Baking Soda as a scouring powder" and reduce or eliminate cleaning stuff in plastic containers, which is generally harsher (but sometimes quicker ;-) . Bigger boxes of baking soda can be found at hardware stores like Home Hardware.


"What we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all our tomorrows."

Alexandra Stoddard , contemporary philosopher

January 22, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Plebiscite, Last day of voting, 9AM-7PM, Unincorporated sections of the Three Rivers proposed amalgamation area, various locations in Kings County.

Facebook event details

Public Consultation Session, City of Charlottetown's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan,

Drop-in: 10AM-4PM

Session: 5:30-7:30PM

Confederation Centre Public Library

Day-long opportunity to drop-in, or an evening session with presentation and time to discuss aspects of the plan.

To preregister for the evening session (so they have enough food and chairs) is here:

since a "light supper" is provided) go to:


Info about Charlottetown Energy:


A similar but different interesting presentation:

Efficiency PEI presentation: "Heritage Windows: Efficiency case studies that reveal surprises", 7-9PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House. Part of the Institute for Architectural Studies and Conservation Winter Architectural Lecture Series.

Facebook event details

Movie and panel discussion: Finding Dawn (Robertson Library Movie Talks), 7-9PM, Robertson Library room 265, UPEI. National Film Board 2006 production by Christine Welsh on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Free admission, all welcome. The listing says popcorn is provided and you are welcome to "bring your non-alcoholic lidded drink".


It's been almost two weeks since the provincial Cabinet shuffle, and there are currently no provincial Legislative Standing Committee meetings scheduled -- there was a Public Accounts one on the day of the Cabinet shuffle which was cancelled.

Opposition Budget Officer and District 18 MLA Brad Trivers is now the chair of that committee, which is the only standing committee chaired by the Opposition I think), and now includes Third Party Opposition member Hannah Bell, and Opposition member Darlene Compton, and government members Kathleen Casey, Bush Dumville, Alan McIsaac, Hal Perry, AND former Finance Minister Allen Roach (so quite a government majority on it). Past agendas and transcripts are here on the Legislative Assembly website: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/committees/getCommittees.php?cnumber=1.

The other committees have had changes to their membership, also.


The 100-step Plastic-Free Life has moved to the category of household cleaning, and the 20th suggestion is "Clean with vinegar and water", using a 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water, stored in a reused spray bottle. Beth Terry also uses it as a produce wash. Vinegar in glass bottles is available, but often in smaller sizes.


About a year ago I printed this page from the children's book "Babar the King", as kind of a card of hope:

from Babar the King, published in 1933, written and illustrated by Jean De Brunhoff

(If the photo of the page of the book doesn't come through)

In this part of the story, Babar, the king of the elephants, is having an awful dream the night before his coronation. All sorts of Misfortunes are causing havoc. Then he sees:

"...graceful winged elephants who chase Misfortune away from Celesteville and bring back Happiness. -- At this point he awakes and feels ever so much better."

The Misfortunes are:

Anger, Cowardice, Despair, Discouragement, Fear, Indolence, Laziness, Misfortune, Sickness, Spinelessness, and Stupidity.

The Graceful Winged Elephants are:

Courage, Happiness, Health, Hope, Intelligence, Joy, Kindness, Knowledge, Love, Patience, Perseverance and Work.

And as I wrote then:

While I am not quite sure anyone ever wants to be compared to a "graceful winged elephant", I think our Island has many people who personify these virtues; and we need them all.

January 21, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This afternoon:

Save the Whales Fundraising Event, 2-4PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall, Room 242, admission by donation and all proceeds going to help fight the court challenge to oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Marine Animal Response Society Director Tonya Wimmer, and Sierra Club Canada's Gretchen Fitzpatrick are the featured speakers. Tony the Troubadour and Colin Jeffrey will provide entertainment!



No voting today in the Unincorporated Areas opinion on the Three Rivers Amalgamation plebiscite (I misread the info), but tomorrow, Monday, January 22nd, will be the final day to vote.

Facebook event details.

The Guardian had a couple of letters this week with the same arguments about the imperative need and the benefits of amalgamation, from representatives of the Federation of PEI Municipalities and the committee in the region pursuing amalgamation. Many remained unconvinced. Paul Smitz has written a letter in the Eastern Graphic about the concerns regarding all residents in unincorporated areas.

Here is the official site of the Three Rivers Steering Committee:


And, having no money and fewer choices to get information out, Facebook remains a cheap and easy way to go. Here is the "Unincorporated Islanders" Facebook page which you can visit for news on the plebiscite and more:



Back to the Legislature (which gave us the rather lumpy Municipalities Act a year ago).

From the unimpeachable Walter Wilkins, published in The Guardian, on Thursday, January 18th, 2018.


OPINION: Legislature ridicules itself - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Walter Wilkins

Improving transparency and access to information were issues that amendments addressed

I'd like to offer a counterpoint to Douglas Coles, P. Eng., P.E., F.E.C’s condemnation of Peter Bevan-Baker’s use of the word ‘farcical’ published in the Jan. 10 edition of The Guardian.

In all the brouhaha about Bevan-Baker’s ejection, I now feel very fortunate about one thing: Prior to and during the event I was very sick with the flu.

As it turns out, being horizontal enabled me to watch the televised legislature leading up to, and including, the celebrated event. Along with other Islanders, I was able to actually witness the farcical behavior in our Legislative Assembly prior to Bevan-Baker giving it a name.

Then, for Bevan-Baker to be ejected for saying the truth? It was an eye opener.

To gather the necessary facts, I assume Mr. Coles was also present in the legislature or watched the televised legislature or at least read the Hansard prior to penning his opinion. However, if others have not had a chance, I’d suggest reading the Dec. 16 Hansard (starting on page 1203) where Liberal Members of the Legislative Assembly asked to see the amendments under discussion when, in fact, they had already been given those amendments.

And then, with a mocking and a disturbing lack of embarrassment, they voted on the amendments anyway. Voted on amendments that they never read. And, they did this over, and over again. If Islanders need an example of “farcical” do we need to look further than this?

Yes Mr. Coles the media’s job is to, “poke and probe and question and propose” - in this, I agree with you. But, both journalistic integrity and even amateur opinions, such as yours and this one, require support from evidence and an absence of self-interest.

And with respect to self-interest, I have no evidence that Coles Associates has received a penny of taxpayer’s money. But the question is: Why don’t I have easy access to such evidence? That’s simple. It’s because, due to the farcical mechanisms in place that impede transparency, taxpayers aren’t in a position to expediently gather evidence about the degree to which any corporate interest has benefited from lobbying for and/or receiving government contracts.

It was this very issue of improving transparency and access to information that Bevan-Baker’s amendments addressed, and against which he beat his head. To this end Mr. Coles, I do not agree with you that Bevan-Baker “ridiculed the efforts of our governing legislature.” It was quite the contrary; he exposed our governing legislature for ridiculing itself.

And what about the very few Islanders that benefit from a legislature that uses farce to willfully impede transparency? Well, those very few Islanders know that as long as farce isn’t exposed, it serves them well. But I suspect the vast majority of Islanders wanting more transparency - and truth - are grateful for the stand Bevan-Baker assumed.

- Walter Wilkins, Stratford, is a retired educator and adventure biker


Saying "no" to plastic produce bags in the next step in the Plastic-Free Life.

Suggestions include just getting out of the habit of using them in grocery stores, as produce is often washed at home anyway; finding stores that don't wrap so much stuff, and dialoging with people such as the farmers' market vendors to put your stuff in your bags, and consider non-plastic options. She discussions keeping produce fresh at home without using plastic bags, and offers many suggestions.


Scottish poet Lachlan MacKinnon (b. 1956) wrote the poem which was placed last in the climate change poetry series printed by The Guardian (U.K.) and printed in June, 2015.


A climate change poem for today:

California Dreaming

by Lachlan Mackinnon

Almonds and vines and lawns

drink up the last

of shallow, short-term water

then suck on the black depths

with a draw mightier

than the moon’s. And suck.

In sudden places the ground

puckers and caves.

Far westward, China smokes.

Nobody sees the rains fail

until they have.

Tableland mesas crack.

In the mountains the snowpack thins,

meltwater now brown

reluctant drops.

Cities gasp in the sun’s stare.

Faucets cough

and families turn inwards.

There must be somebody to blame.

Better ourselves than no-one.

We brag

of damage done

but whether we could truly

dry all rain, bake all earth,

science does not know.

The wastefulness was all

ours but this fetid heat

could be a planetary

impersonal adjustment

like an ice age,

so it might well be wise

to keep always

facepaint and ash about us.

When the last clouds

wagon-train off,

loincloth and invocation will be

the one hope for last

woman and last man discovering

she’s pregnant.

---Lachlan Mackinnon

January 20, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open today in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside(9AM-1PM). Even with some snow coming, they will be open, I am sure. More on Farmers' Markets, below.

PEI March for Equality (Global Women's March), 2PM, Grafton Street Side of Coles Building (across from The Mack and the DVA Building; not Richmond side, across from the Murphy Centre). A bit of a march and some great speakers, I am sure. Facebook event details.

Green Party of PEI General Meeting and Potluck, 4-7:30PM, Park Royal United Church on Christie Drive. From the Facebook event details

The meeting and potluck are open to the public (and you can come to both or either), as well as to members old and new. If you have been a party member since before December 20, 2017 you will be eligible to vote at the meeting. We will have childcare on site (please contact Sarah and membership@greenparty.pe.ca to let us know how many and what ages of children you will be bringing), and a potluck meal following the business part of the meeting.


4pm-4:30pm: Arrival and registration

4:30pm: Meeting called to order

6:30pm: Meeting ends, potluck begins

7:30pm: Those who'd like to keep socializing invited to congregate at a local establishment TBD.


Three Rivers Amalgamation Plebiscite -- Unincorporated Residents, Today, tomorrow and Monday, January 20-22nd, 9AM-7PM.

Have your say on proposed amalgamation:

Unincorporated residents of the Georgetown, Cardigan and Montague Fire Districts


When: January 20 and 22, 2018

Timed: 9 am to 7 pm


Cardigan Fire District:

Kaylee Hall

2316 Pooles Corner and

St. George’s Parish Church, Primrose Rd., St. George’s

Georgetown Fire District:

Eden’s Gate Restaurant

117 E. Royalty Rd. Georgetown

Montague Fire District:

Kaylee Hall

2316 Pooles Corner and

Sturgeon Hall

St. Paul’s Parish Hall

Rte. 17A, Sturgeon


In response to a story on CBC about reducing the risk of E. coli contamination of your produce and generally other food-borne diseases, farmer, sports teacher and former provincial NDP leader Mike Redmond posted this response:

Mike Redmond,


Friday, January 20th, 2018:

We are once again asking the wrong questions. It is not about washing our veggies, over cooking our meat, where is that food coming from, how is it prepared, what distance has it travelled?

We must start to understand how most chickens, pigs, cows and other animals are raised(not humanely). What pesticides are being used to grow those tomatoes and veggies imported from around the globe.

You want healthy food, support local small diversified farmers. Go, no, demand to see what a real free range farm looks like, are chickens seeing the light playing outside, are pigs outside rooting, lying in their wallows?

If only the government could see the light.

and I would add to the preparing part -who is harvesting it and what kinds of conditions are they subjected to -- breaks, washrooms, etc.?? -- comparing that to how most local food at markets is gathered and readied for sale.


To be timely, I am reaching over to the 19th step in the Plastic Free Life website list, which is "Shop your local farmers market".

Which is a great way to buy local food, support local farmers with humane, decent food-raising practices, etc. But there is a small elephant in the room, a Borneo Pygmy of a elephant, perhaps, which is the amount of plastic used in bagging up vegetables and other items. How to get around it? You can use washable cloth bags for a lot of the stuff, if you bring your own and hand it over early in the transaction. But the fresh produce in clean, plastic bags....

Beth Terry talks about some ideas in this link in the Plastic Free Life; there is a lot of discussion with local vendors that could be done. We can all work on it, and I would very much like to hear your suggestions and experiences.


David Sergeant is a younger, British poet who teaches at the University of Plymouth.

originally published on Thursday, June 4th, 2015, in The Guardian (U.K.)

A climate change poem for today:

A Language of Change

by David Sergeant

‘as late capitalism writhed in its internal decision concerning whether

to destroy Earth’s biosphere or change its rules’

– Kim Stanley Robinson

We’re sat by the ocean and this

could be a love poem; but that lullaby murderer

refuses each name I give it

and the icebergs seep into our sandwiches,

translated by carbon magic. And even this might be

to say too much. But the muse of poetry

has told me to be more clear – and don’t,

s/he said, for the love of God, please, screw things up.

Ambiguous, I didn’t reply; as we’re sat

by the ocean and I could make it

anything you wanted, for this moment

of speaking – but we have made it

something forever. Together

the weather

is a language we can barely understand;

but confessional experts detect

in the senseless diktat of hurricane

a hymning of our sins, our stupid counterpoint.

Love has served its purpose, now must be

transformed by an impersonal sequester

of me into the loves I will not see,

or touch, or in any way remember.

Perhaps it was always like this – take my hand,

horizon – ceding this land.

--David Sergeant

January 19, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Birthday today to Cindy Richards, who gives her time to the PEI Food Exchange and serves on the board of the Citizens' Alliance. An Island Gem.


Lots going on this weekend, but a few not mentioned much yet:

Saturday, January 20th:

Progressive Conservatives Districts 18 and 20 (Rustico-Emerald and Kensington-Malpeque) Fundraising Concert, 7-9PM, New London Community Complex. Music, cake auction and draws. District 18 and 20 MLAs Brad Trivers and Matt MacKay to host. Facebook event details.

Sunday, January 21st:

Save the Whales Fundraising Event, 2-4PM, UPEI MacDougall Hall room 242, suggested donation $5-$10, all ages welcome. With special speakers Tonya Wimmer from the Marine Animal Response Society, and Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director from the Sierra Club Canada, and entertainment by Tony the Troubadour and Colin Jeffrey. Facebook event details


Joe Byrne has declared he is running for the Provincial NDP leadership, and will go for the NDP nomination in District 12, which is Charlottetown-Victoria Park. The leadership convention is April 7th.

By the way, the 27 Electoral Districts redrawn for the next provincial election are listed here on the P.E.I. Electoral Boundaries Commission website.

(What I can't find is a way to overlay maps to compare the current Districts with the ones to be used in the next Provincial Election (scheduled for Fall 2019.)

You may have noticed small ads for "Founding Meetings" in Districts. Apparently, each political party needs to have a meeting in each of the new Districts to "found" its District Association, after the electoral boundaries are adjusted. (I am not sure why this hasn't been an informative news story -- and I thank Brad Trivers (MLA, District 18:Rustico-Emerald) for verifying what I pieced together.) The dates of the Progressive Conservatives' District meetings are tucked into their Events calendar on their website.


CBC Island Morning Political Discussions, in case you missed them:

Last Friday, January 12th, 2018, "Political Panel" on the MacLauchlan Cabinet Shuffle (17 minutes):


Cabinet shuffle and election timing analysis from the day before UPEI policital scientist Don Desserud (8:30min)



The next suggestion in the 100 tips Plastic Free list is "Buy from Bulk Bins as often as possible". Bulk Barn in Charlottetown and Summerside are one of the only stores I can think of devoted to this, and consumers can bring their own containers. It was just glass containers when they piloted it, but now I believe it can be glass, ceramic, cloth, metal or plastic (details at the link). You do have to plan ahead enough to have clean containers on hand, and go to a cashier to have the containers weighed before you go fill them. It seems like much more work, but the check-out goes quicker, and presumably putting away at home, too; and much fewer plastic bags. (Now, if they would get more transparent about the sourcing of all the products they carry....!)



The U.K.'s Guardian poetry series on Climate Change from 2015 has this poem by Scottish poet and musician Don Paterson (b. 1963), originally printed on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015.


A climate change poem for today:


by Don Paterson

I miss when I could drop down on all fours

and flick the ground away from under me.

I miss the wire I ran into the earth.

I miss when I was the bloom on the sea

and we slept forever under the warm clouds

till something twitched with design

and woke the clock. So we arose and went.

Last night when the waters rose again

I rowed out to the beeless glade

and lay down on the grass. My sister

taught me to watch the stars this way

lest I think that heaven was up, or heaven,

lest I forget the stars are also below us

where they sink and sail into the dark like cinders.

-- Don Paterson

January 18, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events today:

Joe Byrne's announcement, presumably regarding the provincial New Democratic Party, 10:30-11:30AM, Timothy's World Coffee, 154 Great George Street. They are going ahead, and if you can't make it, it will be live-streamed on Facebook at the event page, here: Facebook event details

Pre-Budget (Provincial) Consultation, 2-4PM, Montague, Scavenger Hunt edition. Call (902) 368-5501 for a clue to as where the public session is being held (they call it pre-registering). You can also make comments on-line before February 18th, at <budgetsubmissions@gov.pe.ca> The department has done their "public consultation" this way for the past few years (four locations across the Island only, daytime, all in about a week, one has to call a number and are asked to give personal information to get the location, and other subtle barriers to participation). The fellow I spoke to at the phone number once was very nice, and completely surprised that there was some question that this was not how most public consultation is done. Sigh.

Community Energy Speaker Session, 5:30-7PM, Charlottetown City Hall. All welcome. Mayor Clifford Lee will host. Speakers include Eddie Oldfield from Quest, and Dr. Matt Hall from the UPEI Engineering School. "This event is a great primer for the consultation sessions and will provide some great background on the value of community energy plans in general, and the potential for renewable energy generation on Prince Edward Island." from: Facebook event details

Knitting hats tonight, for Saturday's Global Women's March, 6:30-8ishPM, Voluntary Resource Centre. Bring some chunky yarn and bigger needles and have some great conversation.


Hey, another opinion piece about the role of our MLAs!

published on Monday, January 15th, 2018, in The Guardian (P.E.I.)


LETTER: Personal and political - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Isaac Williams

We elect MLAs based on their character, and how they perceive things.

Douglas Coles begins his opinion article in the Guardian on Jan. 10 by throwing shade on The Guardian because they continue to investigate and ask questions of government instead of backing off based on “good economic times.” That's not how it works. The media acknowledges accomplishments where it’s due and then keeps doing its job. Coles' attacks at the media lead me to believe there is something he knows but the media doesn’t that is compromising for authorities.

The questioning of media integrity is reminiscent of the actions of the U.S. president.

The assertion here is because of his critique, Peter Bevan-Baker is therefore ungrateful for the freedoms and lifestyle he has as a Canadian. Coles asserts Bevan-Baker does this with his "personal, petty, political viewpoints."

All views in the legislature are personal and political. That is the idea. If the viewpoints expressed in the legislature weren’t personal, we could by now have robots write logical, algorithmic legislation that is objectively best for the common good.

We elect MLAs based on their character, and how they perceive things. Lately some political parties have evolved so that representatives lose their character and are more like a sports team than a caucus.

Character matters and Bevan-Baker has the high ground.

Nothing said in Bevan-Baker's speech was petty. Petty means insignificant. How can you say first that the farce comments are so offensive as to be unappreciative of the democratic freedoms we have, but then also think they’re petty?

They're obviously resonant and consequential. He did not say the entire sitting of the house was a farce; he was referring to specific debates and times during them. Passing legislation and voting on amendments without reading them incited the remarks.

Massive legislative overhauls are happening in the U.S. too fast for their legislators to keep up. Several bills are passing and going to have enormous consequences for generations because revisions and amendments were not added to bills because of the rush to score political points.

Our different political systems will prevent P.E.I. from taking the path the U.S. has but I see some similarities in question period. You could at times say the doublespeak and posturing is “reminiscent of below our southern border.” Sad.

Coles says refusing to retract farce is the act of a child but what does that make the cheap shots and pestering gibes from the government and the opposition? Is talking out of turn, trying to make a scandal over who walks the Premiers’ dog really the best contribution to make for your constituents? If one of your colleagues has the floor, keep quiet and let them do their job.

Mr. Coles outlines his close relationship with the Liberal Party, which is fine. Affiliations are part of democracy. I have mine. But his dismay comes off as cheap when farce-gate is compared with routine heckling by other MLAs, and especially when compared to the time Liberal Leader Paul Connolly, in a similar position as Bevan-Baker, flipped his desk over frustration with the PC majority’s quashing of amendments. What does Coles think of Mr. Connolly?

Despite trying to paint Peter Bevan-Baker as a spoiled child, the effect of his writing is that Douglas Coles paints himself as a spoiled grown man, among others, all realizing too late that everyone is starting to see them for what they are.

- Isaac Williams is a multi-instrumentalist, videographer and photographer living in Charlottetown.


"Give up chewing gum" is the 16th suggestion in the Plastic-Free Life series. For reasons of the vast amount of packaging for most gums, yes, but also, author Beth Terry writes, the polyvinyl acetate in most chewing gums. There is a further description at the link.


Originally published on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2015, in The Guardian (U.K.), poet Maura Dooley (b. 1957):


A climate change poem for today:

Still Life with Sea Pinks and High Tide

by Maura Dooley

Thrift grows tenacious at the tide’s reach.

What is that reach when the water

is rising, rising.

Our melting, shifting, liquid world won’t wait

for manifesto or mandate, each

warning a reckoning.

Ice in our gin or vodka chirrups and squeaks

dissolving in the hot, still air

of talking, talking.

--Maura Dooley

January 17, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tomorrow, Thursday, January 18th:

Joe Byrne's Announcement and Social, 10:30AM, Timothy's Coffee House, Great George Street. Facebook event details.

I don't think he is announcing that he is going to be hosting the CFCY Hoedown, but you never know.


Soon it will be the one-year date of the federal Liberal government walking away from its election campaign promise of electoral reform. Provincially, the Liberal government has made a bit of a hash on provincial democratic renewal with first ignoring the 2016 plebiscite, and now lack of clear communications about a referendum and shrugs about those fixed election dates.

This editorial cartoon was sent my way by the widely read Ian Petrie:


The European Union "declares war on plastic waste":


from the article, published Tuesday, January 16ht, 2018,

by Daniel Boffey

The EU is waging war against plastic waste as part of an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.

Following China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material, Brussels on Tuesday launched a plastics strategy designed to change minds in Europe, potentially tax damaging behaviour, and modernise plastics production and collection by investing €350m (£310m) in research.

Speaking to the Guardian and four other European newspapers, the vice-president of the commission, Frans Timmermans, said Brussels’ priority was to clamp down on “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.

In the EU’s sights, Timmermans said, were throw-away items such as drinking straws, “lively coloured” bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway packaging.

The former Dutch diplomat told the Guardian: “If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans … we have all the seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms.

“If children knew what the effects are of using single-use plastic straws for drinking sodas, or whatever, they might reconsider and use paper straws or no straws at all. <snip>


Originally published on Monday, June 1st, 2015, as part of The Guardian (U.K.)'s series twenty-poem series on the them of climate change.


A climate change poem for today:

The Question

by Theo Dorgan

When the great ships come back,

and come they will,

when they stand in the sky

all over the world,

candescent suns by day,

radiant cathedrals in the night,

how shall we answer the question:

What have you done

with what was given you,

what have you done with

the blue, beautiful world?

--Theo Dorgan

January 16, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Provincial Pre-Budget consultations in Charlottetown, 2-4PM, location not known unless you call (902) 368-5501 for pre-registration.

Thursday, January 18th:

Provincial Pre-Budget consultations in Montague, 2-4PM, location not known unless you call (902) 368-5501 for pre-registration.

You can also submit comments on-line, or by postal mail, until Sunday, February 18th, 2018.

from: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/provide-input-provincial-budget


Saturday, April 7th:

NDP Provincial Leadership Convention; candidates to be announced after they officially declare. CBC News story

The NDP is also planning bi-annual Hilda Ramsay Fundraising Dinner this Fall, which supports female candidates.

Guardian story from January 7th, 2018 on the event.


Joan Diamond always speaks clearly, no heckling, and writes in yesterday's Guardian:


LETTER: Green leader calls a spade - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

During the recent sitting of the legislature I have seen the Premier and his caucus consistently sidestep questions and avoid addressing issues. From PNP, e-gaming, whistleblower legislation to the Water Act, all came under fire from opposition.

Although Richard Brown may be proud of how they were dealt with, I doubt many others who paid attention would agree. Each piece of legislation was carefully kept under clutch of the Liberals. To call the debate that happened in the latest sitting a farce is a simple and sad truth.

During that time I (and anyone else who cared to watch) witnessed plenty of unparliamentary behavior from elected MLAs. Constant interrupting and even heckling while others were speaking came from MLAs, including Paula Biggar, Allen Roach and even the House Leader, Richard Brown. This behavior is by any standard, unprofessional, disrespectful and, I would dare say unparliamentary.

To call a spade a spade, which is exactly what Peter Bevan-Baker did, is not.

Joan Diamond, New Dominion


My Plastic-Free Life suggestion number 15 is to "Let Go of Frozen Convenience Food". Beth terry writes, "There is just no sound alternative...They all use plastic. Even frozen trays that seem to be made of cardboard are lined with plastic. the more we limit our comsumption of frozen convenience foods, the less plastic we'll generate and the healthier we'll be!"


From the anthology of twenty original poems written for The Guardian (U.K.) , Rachel Boast is a poet from Suffolk, England. Actress Ruth Wilson reads the poem on the link, here. Originally printed on Friday, May 29th, 2015.

A climate change poem for today:

Silent Sea

by Rachael Boast

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea

- ST Coleridge

Another vessel sheds the chrome

of its silver mile until a mile

meanders into three, triples again

over the reef. Nothing can breathe

under oil, nor register that

dark membrane’s slick

over sight. We were the first

cracking the hull of the earth

open, our foolish husbandry

a metallurgy that’s brimmed

with false gold too often

we can talk, and talk, and talk

but a ship in space, manned

by non-thinking from non-feeling,

says absolutely nothing at all.

--Rachel Boast

January 15, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The next couple of weeks have a lot of events happening; here are a few:

Provincial Prebudget consultations:

(the time, the lack of details, the only-get-to-know-location if you call to preregister...how NOT to encourage public participation but be able to say you consulted....)


Thursday, January 18th:

Community Energy Speaker Session, 5:30-7PM, Charlottetown City Hall. Free.

The Community Energy Speaker Session, hosted by Mayor Clifford Lee, will be held on Thursday, January 18 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at City Hall. This event is a great primer for the consultation sessions and will provide some great background on the value of community energy plans in general, and the potential for renewable energy generation on Prince Edward Island. Join us for this engaging and informative session and get inspiration for a vision for a greener future of Charlottetown. Speakers include:

Eddie Oldfield with Quest – quality urban energy systems of tomorrow, speaking about the value of community energy plans and sharing some examples of how other municipalities in Canada are planning for the future when it comes to energy.

Dr. Matt Hall – Assistant Professor from the UPEI School of Sustainable Design Engineering, speaking about renewable energy potential on PEI.

Facebook event details

Saturday, January 20th -- Monday, January 22nd:

Three Rivers Amalgamation Plebiscite for Unincorporated Residents,

more details here.

Saturday, January 20th:

PEI March for Equality (Global Women's March), 2PM, starting at Coles Building.

Facebook event details

(Hat making knitting parties at the Voluntary Resource Council TONIGHT and Thursday, January 18th), 6:30PM, with some fun knitters.

Saturday, January 20th:

PEI Green Party General Meeting and Potluck, 4-7:30PM, Park Royal United Church. Facebook event details

Sunday, January 21st:

Save the Whales Fundraising Event, 2-4PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall Room 242.

Join co-hosts Save Our Seas and Shores PEI, UPEI Environmental Society and Sustainability, and Atlantic Veterinary College Wildlife Club for a talk with marine biologist Tonya Wimmer. Proceeds will help support Ecojustice, on behalf of Sierra Club Canada Foundation and four other environmental organisations, in a court action to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from unlawful oil exploration.

Special Guest Speaker Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation: Gretchen will speak about the court case against the NF offshore petroleum board.

Keynote Speaker Tonya Wimmer, Director and Founder, Marine Animal Response Society, and marine mammal biologist: Tonya will speak about human threats to whales and other marine species. Oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would be extremely dangerous to these creatures.

Entertainment will be provided by Colin Jeffrey and Tony the Troubadour. Facebook event details

Monday, January 22nd:

Public Consultation Session on the City's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Reduction Plan, 10AM-4PM and 5:30-7PM, Confederation Centre Public Library. More details from their registration site.


Even the wine bottle needs a second look, as the 14th Plastic-Free Life project's suggestion is:

14. Try to choose only wine bottled in glass with natural cork stoppers.

Beth Terry mentions the plastic corks versus ones sustainably harvested from protected forests, and the lining of metal screw caps containing BPA...she doesn't even mention boxed wine.


Welsh poet Robert Minhinnick (b. 1952) is a Welsh poet and novelist.

A climate change poem for today:

The Rhinoceros

by Robert Minhinnick

On the Steel Beach


Look at these.

Thaw sweat.

Smoke on the swale.

Swarf off a swollen sea.



These. World famous

footprints at low water. Nine

thousand years old, they say, but who’s

counting. Not me.

Yet maybe I am.


A small man. Or woman. Outcast

or outlaw, hunter, flintknapper, cook.

All of these.

Yes, a woman, pregnant once again,

and coming home through the red mud.


Or maybe she was dancing.

Yes, a woman, I guess,

who loved to dance

and paint her eyes with kohl and ochre

and squat to squint at herself

in some rock pool and ask

“what are you?”


At night before she slept

she would breathe her harsh

hashish and tell her story behind the flames

about the brine-bright animals

she had scratched into the sand:

her wolf,

her bear,

her rhinoceros.

Yes, an armoured rhino

like the torrent poured golden

and smoking from the blast furnace ladle,

a rhino where the glacier will be

and coming out of the sun,

a rhino she will picture

with her goatwillowstick

on the last morning she will wake.

-- Robert Minhinnick

January 14, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Movie: No Land No Food No Life, 6PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall Room 242.

The 2013 film explores sustainable small-scale agriculture and the call for an end to corporate global land grabs in Mali, Uganda and Cambodia. This feature length documentary gives voice to those directly affected by combining personal stories, and vérité footage of communities fighting to retain control of their land. The film alternates interviews with the farmers, the usurpers and other interested parties with scenes of demonstrations and conferences of a grassroots activist movement. Voice-over narration and animations create a historical context and highlight a distressing situation that exacerbates the food and climate crises. Facilitated discussion will follow the film screening. Donations are welcome. from: Facebook event details.


A few people asked for me to reprint Doug Coles' huffy opinion piece in last week's Guardian about the last minutes of the Fall Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, and I have done so, at the end of this newsletter. It is representative of similar pieces that have the feel they were automatically churned out and submitted by to show disdain/reprobation/and perhaps fealty to the ruling political party (though this one appears to include a nice ad for the writer's business).

Memory is elusive, and the last day of the Fall Sitting was a long afternoon, but I feel I did have a unique perspective, being one of four people sitting in the Gallery at that time. Journalist Teresa Wright had come over to the door-side seating where one sees the Speaker directly and Opposition MLAs (and backbench Government MLAs now) to one's left and Cabinet Ministers and the rest of the Government MLAs ahead and to one's right. (The press seats are officially directly behind "the Rail" directly behind the Official Opposition MLAs.)

The other people with me were Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water chair Catherine O'Brien and Darcie Lanthier. (And I need to shout out to all the public who watched the proceedings in the Gallery or at home or wherever, to pay attention and pay witness to our government's workings.) All the other people in the room were staff of the Legislative Assembly or MLAs. The video-recording usually focused on the person speaking, and not frequently a larger view of the room.

The last pieces of legislation were very important (Lobbyist, Whistleblower and the Water Act, with its still subsections which would have allowed fracking), and cramming them to the end (again, this was Wednesday, December 20th) when the mind was yearning toward the Christmas holidays and their preparations, was a good tactical ploy for not being bothered by too many details. (I thought of the oodles of time spent in November when pretty much all MLAs spent waxing loquaciously about the Speech from the Throne and sighed about the need for better speaking limits.)

The pieces of legislation shunted through rapidly, and at least the fracking ban was tightened. But not too much else improved. There are protocols at the end of the Sitting where the Clerks (who are always focused and fair and help comb out tangles in legislative procedures) read all the stuff that has passed whatever Reading, getting it ready for the Lieutenant Governor to come in and pack the trunk up properly for storage, so to speak. Then Peter spoke up, yellow pad in hand.

Bevan-Baker's objection, while wordy, was totally on-spot. Some MLAs really weren't paying attention during debates, returning from snacking, chatting, trying out different Members' chairs, highlighting reports, not even there.... Some blatting out "Carry! the bill!" without stopping for breath. If plain people like me can try to focus on the wording of bills and the point of questions in Question Period and debates (in volunteer time and, perhaps, watching on-line while waiting at the dentist), so can our paid MLAs.

While Bevan-Baker was speaking, House Leader Richard Brown and the Premier conferred through gestures and whispers presumably about their response, and Mr. Brown then raised his thespian best, to add to the drama. The Speaker took the point, and asked Peter to retract. Peter (along with a few of us in the Gallery) felt the Speaker's distress at this situation, but he could not retract his words. He was sad, but forthright.

The Premier wanted his chance to comment on Peter's objections, but the motion had been made and voted on, so no chance to refute, as Peter had been "named" and escorted out of the House (followed immediately by the journalist and one of us spectators, while the other two stayed while things resumed; recomposing, in my case. The closing production carried on, the Lieutenant Governor came in (and everyone ran to shake her hand, which delayed things a bit, as they still had to do all the official stuff to close the House), and I think Robert Henderson and someone else threw ripped paper in the air at the end, a rather puerile rite of House Closing I hadn't seen since Robert Ghiz's days. And I gathered my notebook, reclaimed my water bottle from the pleasant commissioners downstairs, and left. So perhaps that differs from the perspective in the opinion piece, below.


"Buy large wheels of unwrapped cheese" is the thirteenth suggestion in the 100-list in the Plastic-Free Life with a fuller discussion of options for finding cheese not already wrapped in plastic and storing it here. Unfortunately, most cheese wax is petroleum-based.


The ambivalent nature of wind turbines is explored by Northern Ireland's Colette Bryce (b. 1970) in this poem originally published on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015, in The Guardian (U.K.). Bryce's website is here.


A climate change poem for today:

Turbines in January

by Colette Bryce

A thousand synonyms for wind

make up your song.

Those busy arms

may juggle any number of rumours

going around:

your Swish, for one—

they say it whisks the pool of sleep;

that blades cut holes

in the cloth of dreams;

that shadow-flicker

makes of the sunniest day

a speed-frame motion picture,

and panes of ice, which crystallize

on your frozen wings,

are flung when you turn

(one, it was said, had lodged

like a glass fin

in the roof of a camper van).


What’s to be done

to keep your head in the clouds,

your whirling one-track mind,

for the wingers and losers,

raptors, plovers, gulls

batted to the ground?

What’s to be done

about your foot, electric root

beneath an ocean floor

abuzz with armoured

creatures charmed

by your magnetic aura?


Like my brother’s

distance-defying snaps,

where the London Eye will rest

like a trinket in his palm

or the Tower of Pisa

bend to the slightest pressure

of an index finger,

these turbines

could be a row of daffodils

bordering a lawn, signalling

the spring, as I reach

my hand out

into the perspective,

pluck one like a stem,

raise it to my lips

like a child’s seaside windmill

on a stick, and blow…

Its earfolds fill and spin.

-- Colette Bryce

OPINION: Conduct unbecoming an MLA - Guest Opinion by Douglas Coles

Peter Bevan-Baker ridicules efforts of our legislature and 25 other sitting members, as farcical

Let's get the thank you out of the way, off the top. I reference the editorial from the Guardian on Jan. 4th, 2018 paper, admonishing Peter Bevan-Baker’s actions on the last day of the fall sitting.

It has been a while since the Guardian and I have been on the same page. And with reason. The media's job is to poke and probe and question and propose. And recently, this has been tiresome for me.

Tiresome because... these are good economic times.

Tourism is through the roof, Agra receipts are well up, lobster prices have rebounded by dollars per pound and we have the newly developed economic pillars of processed food, aerospace, and pharma quickly jostling for recognition as major drivers of our provincial economy. These all positively impacted our recently balanced budget . . . and when was the last time we heard those words in this province? More than two decades ago?

As a provider of services within the knowledge-based economy, our firm continues to successfully export services worldwide, but for the first time in our 35 years of effort, we are now doing it with the full backing of a provincial government looking to reduce the provincial trade deficit. Simply music to my ears, because that means both sustainability to our firm, and its staff and new sources of revenue to our province.

Yes, our corporate life is improving, our staff remains committed, our Island way of life is solid, and finally, the Guardian and I are on the same page, politically.

Mr. Bevan-Baker and I are of a different political stripe. However, he was duly elected by his constituents and for that he deserves our respect. That was followed up by a second selection of a Green party candidate to the legislature. Again, respect is due. Democracy in action.

As someone who has witnessed firsthand, elections held in other parts of the world, at the point of a gun, I recognize that we do have a great and fair democracy here, so who can complain about the democratic voice of the people? Certainly not me.

However, and here is where I join forces with the media, a freely elected official, empowered to govern Islanders, simply ignores this privilege, when they place their personal, petty, political viewpoints in front of their privilege of responsibility to govern. And with that action I am dismayed.

For Mr. Bevan-Baker to ridicule the efforts of our governing legislature, all 25 other sitting members, as farcical . . . and then, having been given the benefit of the doubt, by his peers, to simply retract that sentiment; only to double down, and be evicted from the House, are the actions of a child.

Actions, such as rudely screaming and stomping their foot in public, hoping to embarrass the parent . . . only realizing, too late, that everyone simply sees them for what they are, a spoiled child. Grossly reminiscent of the actions of that politician governing below our southern border.

And for exposing this character flaw in Mr. Bevan-Baker, I give thanks to our media. As I said, first time in a while, we are on the same page.

- Douglas Coles, P. Eng., P.E., F.E.C., is vice president and director of engineering services for Coles Associates of Charlottetown.

January 13, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM).


"Please Enjoy Your Genetically Engineered Dinner" is the topic of The Walrus article on-line from January 3rd, 2018, by Christopher Pollon, summarizing what's been taking place.


Between April and June, Canadians participated in an unprecedented experiment: supermarket shoppers bought about five tonnes of genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, making it the first transgenic animal approved and sold for human consumption anywhere in the world. What’s notable, beyond the precedent, is that none of the shoppers knew they were buying it.

The fish sold in this first pilot sale was the AquaBounty AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon—a GE fish that grows to market size in half the time as conventionally farmed salmon. Developed at Newfoundland’s Memorial University in the early 1990s, the fish combines a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon with a regulatory switch from another fish, enabling the salmon to produce growth hormones all the time.

It has taken twenty years for this fish to be approved for human consumption in both the United States and Canada, but complications over disclosure rules for GE animals are keeping the fish out of American stores for now. This has not been the case in Canada, where Health Canada does not require the GE fish—sold mostly as filets to restaurants and supermarkets—to be labelled in any way. <snip> see link for rest of article

It also mentions the P.E.I. AquaBounty site is awaiting approval (not that our Environment Department acknowledged that, and people in the area say building has been going ahead at quite a rate). Something to consider is that maybe we shouldn't be eating as much farmed salmon as we do, genetically modified or not.

This book is an excellent (and dismaying) read:

Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, by Tara Grescoe (2009). A review here. The public library has this book, and it's available from usual booksellers.


Number 12 in My Plastic Free Life is "Choose milk in returnable glass bottles", which for

some of us is easy, and others, not at all. Brian Palmer, who wrote this "The Green Lantern" column on choosing, but has a U.S. perspective.

P.E.I. is very much suited to small-scale (as in, community-based) dairy, whether goat or cow, but there are a lot of hurdles, as with any small-scale food production in the "agri-food" system our governments tend to support.


So this really suits for today, 10degrees Celsius and even most of the ice gone around here:


By English poet Simon Armitage (b. 1963) from Tuesday, May 26th, 2015, published in the U.K. Guardian:

A climate change poem for today:

Last Snowman

by Simon Armitage

He drifted south

down an Arctic seaway

on a plinth of ice, jelly tots

weeping lime green tears

around both eyes,

a carrot for a nose

(some reported parsnip),

below which a clay pipe

drooped from a mouth

that was pure stroke-victim.

A red woollen scarf trailed

in the meltwater drool

at his base, and he slumped

to starboard, kinked,

gone at the pelvis.

From the buffet deck

of a passing cruise liner

stag and hen parties shied

Scotch eggs and Pink Ladies

as he rounded the stern.

He sailed on between banks

of camera lenses

and rubberneckers,

past islands vigorous

with sunflower and bog myrtle

into a bloodshot west,

singular and abominable.

--Simon Armitage

January 12, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Birthday to the Leader of Official Opposition James Aylward. It looks like it might be a busy year for Island politics and politicians. CBC Radio will have their Political Panel after the 7:30 news and sports.



Standing Committee Meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries, 10AM, Coles Building, all welcome.

"The committee will receive a briefing on drone technology used to identify fields at risk of run-off from Hon. Robert Henderson, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries; Barry Thompson, Manager of Sustainable Agriculture; and Evan MacDonald, Soil and Water Conservation Specialist. (This meeting was originally scheduled for October 20, 2017.)"

The new Agriculture Minister has gotten up to speed early on the file. Hal Perry (D27: Tignish-Palmer Road) is the Chair of this committee.

Provincial budget consultations are apparently going on this week and next -- here is what Brad Trivers, PC MLA and chair of the Public Accounts Committee, wrote about it:

Once again all pre-budget sessions are on weekdays 2pm-4pm in an 8 day stretch Jan 10-18 and require pre-registration. Allen Roach @InfoPEI what Islanders are you trying to engage? At least there's email and online too. #peipoli

  • Wednesday, January 10, Alberton

  • Thursday, January 11, Summerside (storm date January 12) - Version française sera disponible.

  • Tuesday, January 16, Charlottetown (storm date January 17)

· Thursday, January 18, Montague (storm date January 19)



Sunday, January 14th,

Movie: No Land No Food No Life, 6PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall Room 242.

Hosted by Cinema Politica Charlottetown, the UPEI Environmental Society & Sustainability Committee and the PEI Council of Canadians Chapter.

The 2013 film explores sustainable small-scale agriculture and the call for an end to corporate global land grabs in Mali, Uganda and Cambodia. This feature length documentary gives voice to those directly affected by combining personal stories, and vérité footage of communities fighting to retain control of their land. The film alternates interviews with the farmers, the usurpers and other interested parties with scenes of demonstrations and conferences of a grassroots activist movement. Voice-over narration and animations create a historical context and highlight a distressing situation that exacerbates the food and climate crises. Facilitated discussion will follow the film screening. Donations are welcome. www.cinemapolitica.org

Facebook event details


Sarah Stewart Clark, who started Island Mothers Helping Mothers and #HowManyWade groups, has given permission for her writings to be shared; and she very recently wrote about improving the mental health care system, with the appointment of new Department of Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell, and the competence and caring of the Opposition Critics. I have printed the whole thing, at the end of this newsletter.


from: https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/

No. 11 -- Bring your own containers for meat and prepared foods.

This involves some planning, a lot of asking and explaining, and usually finding smaller producers and suppliers to understand your requests.


Originally published on Monday, may 25th, 2015, in the U.K. The Guardian:

A climate change poem for today:


by Imtiaz Dharker

Hand shaking on the stop-cock, she looks

at the X, the warning cross,

the water-tap unlocked, its padlock cracked.

Breath hacks in the throat, Check your back.

Turn it on and an anxious mutter swells

to thunder in the plastic bucket. Don’t spill it.

Fill it to the top. Lift to the hip, stop,

balance the weight for the dangerous walk

home. Home.

Don’t lose a drop.

From the police chowki across the track

a whistle, a shout. Run. Don’t stop. Don’t slip.

A drag at the hip. Hot, hot underfoot. Water slops

up and out in every direction, over the lip,

over her legs, a shock of cool, a spark of light.

With her stolen piece of sky, she has taken flight.

Behind her, the shouters give up. She puts down

the bucket. The water stills.

She looks into it, looks up to where the blue

is scarred with aimless tracks.

Jet-trails cross each other off

before they die out, a careless X.

--Imitiaz Dharker

Imitiaz Dharker is a Pakistani-born British poet (b. 1954). Carol Ann Duffy, curator of The Guardian's Climate Change poem series, calls her the "World Laureate" of Poetry. Her website is here: http://www.imtiazdharker.com/

January 11, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Climate Change news:

“New York City today becomes a capital of the fight against climate change on this planet,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of climate group 350.org.

That quote from this article, published yesterday in The Guardian (U.K.)


New York City plans to divest $5bn from fossil fuels and sue oil companies - The Guardian (UK) article by Oliver Milman

Mayor Bill de Blasio: ‘It’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient’

Published on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018, in The Guardian (U.K.)

New York City is seeking to lead the assault on both climate change and the Trump administration with a plan to divest $5bn from fossil fuels and sue the world’s most powerful oil companies over their contribution to dangerous global warming.<snip>

Court documents state that New York has suffered from flooding and erosion due to climate change and because of looming future threats it is seeking to “shift the costs of protecting the city from climate change impacts back on to the companies that have done nearly all they could to create this existential threat”. <snip>

The rest of the article is at the link, above. "This changes the game," said climate change photographer and Islander Robert Van Waarden, who shared this news.


P.E.I. Political Climate Change news:

Musical Chairs, a.k.a. Cabinet Shuffle

CBC Radio plans to have UPEI political science professor Don Desserud on this morning, which should be insightful.

A few comments perhaps not already expressed:

While the Premier and the MLAs resigning from Cabinet tried to put a positive face on it, both Eastern P.E.I. government MLAs who have retired from Cabinet could have had the work ethic of Summerside Mayor Bill Martin, and pledged to work in their department at quite a good clip, knowing that their time in the Minister's chair was coming to an end with the dropping of the writ sometime in the next couple of years. I also don't know what this means as far as timing and ministerial pensions. The 2017 Report of the Indemnities and Allowances Commission including the text of the pension plan is on the right-hand column of this link: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/IAC for those that want to sift through that.


Kathleen Casey continues as Deputy Speaker, and she and Bush Dumville remain the two in the Ghiz-Maclauchlan years caucus not to be appointed Cabinet Ministers for bits of time. She'll continue to be Committee of the Whole House chairperson for much legislation and such, and push hard on issues important to her, and be right there if Speaker Buck Watts needs to step back.

However, criticism that P.E.I. has the lowest percentage of women in elected office and cabinet positions is justified and electoral reform should change this.

It was notable that, with a suite full of communications people, the original press release from government on the Cabinet shuffle forgot to include Tina Mundy, Minister of Family and Human Services, with the returning "colleagues", nor remembered to include the Status of Women portfolio on Paula Biggar's list.


Robert "Poppy" Mitchell will be missed as Minister of Communities, Land and Environment (CLE), and we wish him well with Health. It's good news for Health, actually. But, "Minister's Discretion" takes on a whole new meaning of uncertainty when the person with the discretion can be changed at any old time. I am sure the various groups working towards strong regulations related to The Water Act and all those unincorporated areas where annexation looms will be able to work with the new CLE Minister (and former Environment Minister from the Ghiz administration) Richard Brown (D:12, Charlottetown-Victoria Park), but there is often a lag when a new person is settling into a role.



Green Drinks Summerside, 7-10PM, Doolys on Water Street. Chat with a Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker, deputy leader Lynne Lund, and members of the Shadow Cabinet.


Regarding Charlottetown's City budget consultations:

For those who are unable to attend:

Feedback can be emailed to budgets@charlottetown.ca.

Written submissions must be sent to the attention of:

The Finance Department - City of Charlottetown

P.O. Box 98, 199 Queen Street,

Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2

Feedback can also be drop off at the main floor reception desk at City Hall, 199 Queen Street, with the envelope clearly marked to the attention of the Finance Department.

To speak to City Finance directly, call: 902-629-4190.

Submissions can also be sent on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CityofCharlottetown or by tweeting ideas to @ChtownPE using hashtag #ChtownBudget

All comments must be submitted by 12 p.m. (noon) on Wednesday, January 31, 2018.


(skipping a new plastic free life item today, sorry....)


The Climate Change poem for today is short, and the link has actor Jeremy Irons reading it:


A climate change poem for today:


by Michael Longley

Wind-wounded, lopsided now

Our mighty beech has lost an arm.

Sammy the demolition man

(Who flattened the poet’s house

In Ashley Avenue, its roof

Crashing into that homestead,

Then all the floors, poetry

And conversation collapsing)

Slices the sawdusty tons,

Wooden manhole-covers,

An imagined underground.

Beneath a leafy canopy

The poet, on my seventieth,

Gazed up through cathedral

Branches at constellations.

Where is he now? Together

We are counting tree-rings.

--Irish poet Michael Longley

January 10, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There was to be a Public Accounts meeting this morning, but that's been scuttled since the Premier has announced a cabinet shuffle to be made public at 10:30AM. Most people feel it's a pretty shallow pool to swish around; only Bush Dumville and Chris Palmer haven't been given ministerial positions (and the extensive salary increases) in the Ghiz-MacLauchlan administrations. Coverage will be at The Guardian and CBC websites, among others.

Legislative Assembly Members' page


The city of Charlottetown is holding budget consultations, tonight, 5:30-8PM, City Hall.


The Province is asking for public input on a Provincial Housing Strategy. The deadline is Friday, February 2nd.

Government press release and link to survey


Plastic Free Life No. 10 is refusing, reusing and returning plastic baskets for small fruits and vegetables. Details on the website link.


British poet Jo Bell (b. 1967) lives on small boat in the Midlands of England, and was names the Canal Laureate a few years ago. She wrote this poem which was selected for The Guardian's Climate Change series.


A climate change poem for today:


by Jo Bell

The land bridge connecting Great Britain to mainland Europe during the last Ice Age was gradually flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500 BC. It was discovered in 1931 when a Norfolk trawler dredged up an unexpected artefact.

Out from Cromer in an easy sea, Pilgrim Lockwood

cast his nets and fetched up a harpoon.

Twelve thousand years had blunted not one barb.

An antler sharpened to a spike, a bony bread knife

from a time of glassy uplands and no bread:

Greetings from Doggerland, it said.

It’s cold. We answer ice with elk and mammoth, larks

and people like you. We are few. We hunt and eat and walk

and then move on, or fall. There are midges

but you can’t have everything. We fish or fowl;

we stalk carp-fat lagoons with ivory spears.

Our softened swamps are thick with eels. We sing.

Pilgrim felt his feet transparent on the deck, a sailor

treading uplands sixty fathoms back; saw nettled deer tracks

pooling, inch by sodden inch, into a whaler’s channel;

inlands islanded and highlands turned to

shipping hazards,

fellsides lessened to a knuckled string; the sly brine

loosing peat from longbones, locking snails into the bedrock.

He turned for harbour, kissed the quoins of every house

and took to hillwalking. Time, he said, was water:

water, time. At neap tides he felt England’s backbone

shift and shiver; saw the caverns fill, the railways rivered

and the Pennine mackerel flashing through lead mines,

the last dove lifting from the summit of Lose Hill.

--Jo Bell

January 9, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A day of small news bits:

Winter Community Schools are starting this week, or may have just gotten going last week. There are many fun options to choose to learn for the next couple of months, and in many areas, it makes winter go by quickly.



"Timless Tuesday" has been proposed for today to show consumer concern about minimum wage raises and resulting policy changes at some franchises (originally in Ontario, but there are concerns when the minimum wage is raised in any province).

Maude Barlow, honourary chairperson of the Council of Canadians, writes about this here.

Ann Wheatley of the Cooper Institute is set to discuss the wage changes, on behalf of the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income, this morning on CBC Radio.


Loblaws pledged to give any consumers affected by their bread price fixing scheme a $25 gift card, which some have suggested people sign up for and then donate to local food banks and such. The sign-up started yesterday and here is a CBC business article with some more background on "strings attached" to the rebate.




Sable Island: Horses and Nature, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, NaturePEI meeting. With Diane Griffin, Kathy Martin and Jackie Waddell will be presenting, so there will likely be grand bird photos!

Facebook event details


Speaking of bread, part 2:

Plastic Free life No. 9 -- "Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags." It sounds like the bread wrap plastic (usually symbol number 4, if it is labeled at all) is difficult to get recycled at times, and reducing the use of the stuff is the primary goal. We have great bakers and various ways to find fresh bread, and most make strong efforts to meet consumers' demands. The author of this series, Beth Terry, recommends storing bread at home wrapped in cloth (or a cloth bag) and stored in a large tin or metal breadbox (both often seen at second-hand stores).


A climate change poem for today, by U.K. poet and editor Matthew Hollis (b. 1971):


by Matthew Hollis

Beneath the rain-shadow and washed farmhouses,

in the service of the old shore,

we waited for the rising of the road,

the south lane laden in sand,

the north in residue and wrack;

the tide drawing off the asphalt

leaving our tyres little to disperse;

still, the water under wheel was forceful –

cleft between the chassis and the sea –

that clean division that the heart rages for.

But half way out the destination ceases to be the prize,

and what matters is the sudden breadth of vision:

to the north, a hovering headland,

to the south, a shoal of light –

the sea off-guarded, but hunting:

our licence brief, unlikely to be renewed.

Between mainland and island, in neither sway,

a nodding of the needle as the compass takes its weigh.

--Matthew Hollis

January 8, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some upcoming events this week:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 9th:

"Sable Island: Horses and Nature", Lecture at Nature PEI meeting, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House.


Wednesday, January 10th:

Public Accounts Standing Committee Meeting, 10AM, Coles Building. These are also live-streamed on the Legislative Assembly's website. I think Hannah Bell, MLA District 11 (Charlottetown-Parkdale) will be the new member on this Committee switching out Peter Bevan-Baker, but not sure.

City of Charlottetown Budget Open House, 5:30-8PM, City House. The open house was set up due to public suggestions, I think, so consider dropping in if you can.


Thursday, January 11th:

"Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases 101 Presentation", 7-8:30PM, Receiver Brass Shop (Water Street location). Facebook event details.

Green Drinks Summerside, 7-10PM, Doolys Summerside, 298 Water Street. "Green Drinks is an opportunity for informal discussion, in a casual setting. Our New Year's Resolution is for the Summerside Greens to meet up once a month. The political landscape on PEI is shifting, and it's an exciting time to get involved! Green Party Deputy Leader Lynne Lund will be hosting with Peter Bevan-Baker, and Shadow Critics Steve Howard (Energy, Transportation and Infrastructure) and Susan Hartley (Health and Wellness)." from the Facebook event details.


Something for women to consider applying for: open to both women who are non-partisan and those who are members of an Island political party:

PEI Coalition for Women in Government is sponsoring a second year of leadership development....The program is designed to enhance and increase leadership skills and provide opportunities for participants to identify and realize personal goals within the democratic process, either as elected representatives or organizers. For more information, please visit:


There are a series of full-days and half day events. Perhaps those who took it last year can let us know what they thought of this program.

The application deadline is early February.


Plastic Free Life Number 8 -- cutting out all plastic bottled beverages. The author recommends some sort of soda-stream product if carbonated beverages are wanted (justifying that the plastic in the unit is much less than years of plastic bottles, and some units have glass bottles to fill).


Today's reprinting of a Climate Change poem is from May 19th, 2015: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/19/a-climate-poem-for-today-cantrer-gwaelod-by-gillian-clarke

A climate poem for today, by Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales from 2008-2016

*Cantre’r Gwaelod, (The Drowned Hundred) is a legendary land lost under Cardigan Bay. The storms of February 2014 uncovered a petrified forest and evidence of ancient habitation from the beach at Borth.

Cantre’r Gwaelod*

by Gillian Clarke

The morning after, the beach at Borth

is a graveyard, a petrified forest

thundered out of the sand by the storm,

drowned by the sea six thousand years ago

when the Earth was flat,

the horizon the edge of the world.

Remains of stilted walkways tell their story:

how they walked over water between trees,

longing for a lost land when the sea-god stole it,

how they shouldered their children and fled

with every creature that could crawl, run, fly,

till time turned truth to myth.

It’s how it will be as world turns reflective:

seas sated with meltwater, craving more;

a cliff-fall takes a bungalow; a monstrous

tide rips up a coastal train-track;

storm fells a thousand-year-old oak,

smashes a graceful seaside promenade.

Grieve for lost wilderness – for the lovesick salmon,

lured by sweet river-water sleeved in the salt,

homing upstream to spawn at the source

where it was born; for mating hares

in love with the March wind; for thermals

lifting a flaunt of red kites over the wood;

for bees mooning for honey in weedless fields;

for sleepy Marsh Fritillary butterflies

swarming the ancient bog of Cors Llawr Cwrt;

for the Brown Hairstreak in love with blackthorn

and the honeydew of aphids in the ash;

for the blackbird’s evening aria of possession;

for Earth’s intricate engineering, unpicked

like the flesh, sinews, bones of the mother duck

crushed on the motorway, her young

bewildered in a blizzard of feathers;

the balance of things undone by money,

the indifferent hunger of the sea.

--Gillian Clarke

January 7, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

More than half of Norway's new car sales are now electric or hybrid, figures show, thanks to government action through intentional public policy.

You remember public policy - maybe even action, if you have lived long enough.

This, of course, requires vision.

-- David Coon, Leader of the New Brunswick Green Party and MLA

Electric vehicles are not going to "solve" climate change, but renewable electricity production fueling vehicles would reduce greenhouse gases and the amount of pollution from combustion engines. (Even heavy-duty machines like tractors and road building will be able to be converted to electric.) There is a lot of research and development that needs to take place, which we could have been doing since the Jimmy Carter presidency, but more powerful voices have had the ear of later U.S. presidential administrations. (See Who Killed the Electric Car? documentary for a detailed picture on the shared blame for the mid-1990s electric vehicles being shelved; and then the hopeful sequel, Revenge of the Electric Car.)

There was a lot of to-and-from with Dunsky Energy at the public consultations for the provincial energy strategy more that a year ago about which kinds of vehicles the provincial government could "incentivise" for hybrids or electric vehicles (an earlier one was cut -- and never reinstated -- by Robert Ghiz when the HST was introduced).

The P.E.I. Energy Strategy was released in March of 2017 and summarized here by CBC.

In the Fall 2017 sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, Bill No. 17, An Act to Amend the Electric Power Act was passed, a little bill which makes the Prince Edward Island Energy Corporation a public utility so it can work on efficiency (which was counter-intuitive for Maritime Electric to be doing, as it profits from energy sales). But that's all that's been actually presented and passed by the Legislature, I think.

There is one charging space at UPEI, located at the School of Sustainable Design Engineering. One at the Nissan dealer, one at the Delta (which is often quite busy in summer by tourists), a couple of places in Summerside, etc. Except for Summerside, this is not planning for the future. (And these are the not the really really fast charging ones, either.) I am glad there is an EfficiencyPEI electric vehicle and that they did a quick tour of the Island this summer, but the plan for dealing with these imperative issues doesn't seem to be very....efficient.

Here is a recent article about P.E.I. Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker questioning the government on electric charging stations, and the various federal options the province has or hasn't applied for.



The Plastic Free Life suggestion number 7 is relatively easy to set aside for now -- eliminate plastic in ice cream by eating cones at take out (perhaps not today) or asking for them to pack containers you bring (something I'll admit I haven't asked Cow's about doing).


British poet Sean Borodale writes one of the climate change poems, originally published on Monday, May 18th, 2015, in The Guardian (U.K.)

A climate change poem for today:

Scratching for Metaphor in the Somerset Coalfields

by Sean Borodale

I am here, at the scene of a breaking;

broken bits, the metaphor of crushed paradise;

forested history of burning; a trace element

version of heritage. Ex-colliery lands

where the mines were part of the lung.

Radstock. 1794. The Fever of August.

Coleridge is crossing a boundary to his lyric field;

by counter-spirit. Under his feet

Old Pit is open: boys and men

mine its difficult, faulted, folded vein in the dark;

their candles opening limited allowance of light.

Today’s halo, our luminescence: the sun.

Bright flat walls; shadows in corners.

Under new roads, coal is unviable;

forces of earth press old roadways shut.

How much carbon dioxide has breathed through?

Carting boys have lived and gone.

Whole lives burned their taper in winning coal.

I make the metaphor: a word is a lump of coal,

locked-in energy of an example.

This piece is dense with experience:

as it burns, it disappears.

Its carbon harness, stripped off and bonded by fire

to oxygen and air: two wings of dioxide’s

light and buoyant paraphernalia.

This is combustion; earth to the exosphere.

Driving to Radstock from the north (Norwegian diesel)

you see the coalfields of Somerset.

Each year, time is a little shorter.

Coal still powers the electrical grid in part.

From minerals below, the Tropic of Cancer was landed;

Carboniferous club moss, horsetail’s waterlogged equatorial.

I put a light to dry tinder under the smudge of coal

and the peacock glint of its variants; solid, dark and old.

We will disappear; we will nuance, contribute, divulge

this agent into airs. I think we will disappear.

But where the fire happens, today and active;

closer, get closer.

Seas rise, glaciers melt, winds stricken.

It could be a voice, a skew in the song of billions;

coal’s articulate agency, the deformed, aerated lace

smouldering. A widow’s veil.

An action of striking, a tautology of flame:

I put the image of coal into metaphor;

smudging my fingers. Watch how it burns.

Watch how it flares, extrudes, goes grey.

Coal’s wild, iconic body.

Smoke deviates air to exist as fumes.

The tick of cinders, compounding fathoms.

Coal fuelled Portishead Power Station until 1973;

how did it burn fast enough? A chandelier is still electric.

At the wires’ ends coal is the landscape too hot to walk;

and it must be bituminous, it must be tarry,

forest trinkets fuming to the sun.


Mineralised swamp-forest unburdened of exact place;

exhausted, freighted, fractured. Its fossil detail,

drift-continent travelogue, brought up in carts.

The spoil tips are high.

Radstock today: its fluency its own.

Above, in the glitter-sphere of the ultra,

the heat-lake capture of air,

a damage persists: a weird register of shimmer.

Roads smoke into corridors, cities mirage.

Water grows acid, eats stone, heats air.

The pattern of material looks erratic. It’s like

wild-catting transcendence; the wayward

afterlife of ancient plants; a secondary imperfect parable

of power for metaphor, transport, speech through smoke.

-- Sean Borodale

January 6, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM) today. Bring something to keep your vegetables from freezing in your vehicle....and see if your farmers survived the windstorm OK -- it sounds like several greenhouses may have lost their coverings in the past few days.

Next week:

Tuesday, January 9th:

Talk: "Sable Island: Horses and Nature", hosted by Nature PEI, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House. There will be an AGM also that evening. All welcome. Facebook event details.


The concern (that unincorporated areas have no voice and that the provincial Municipalities Act is way off base in trying to wedge rural PEI into the same filebox of regulations as the cities and towns) is worth reading and trying to understand. This should not be dismissed so dismissively by bureaucrats and politicians.


Standing strong against federation - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Sylvia Teasdale

Published on Friday, January 5th, 2018

Government will divide and conquer unincorporated areas until we no longer exist

Welcome to 2018 and a daunting agenda for those who keep rural P.E.I. rural. This is the year for municipal elections and the government wants to have as many newly incorporated entities as possible for this grand event. And yes, the proposed 3Rivers amalgamation will be the cornerstone of the amalgamation initiative, the model for all other urban/rural amalgamations.

Being incorporated will give us a voice, the government says. In fact, incorporation will silence the rural voice. We will be swallowed up into incorporated bureaucracies, which do not reflect our lives, our needs and our way of life. Or our choice to live a rural lifestyle.

The incorporated towns, villages and cities are part of a federation, the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities. Have a look at their website and see what is in store for rural P.E.I. (fpeim.ca) and give yourself a fright.

The government’s goal is to create an incorporated P.E.I., incorporating all of it piece by piece until the project is complete, all sorted out.

What a coup that will be for the government of Premier MacLauchlan. However, they are missing the big picture. With a total population of approximately 153,000 souls, why not amalgamate the entire population of the Island into Charlottetown?

Then, the Island could be divided into wards. We would no longer have need of a provincial government and the large bureaucracy it feeds. After all, in Upper and Lower Canada, a town of 153,000 people is very small. So why have Summerside, Stratford, Tignish and Montague. Think of the economies of scale one island wide city would provide…. and the subsidies…. and the grants. The opportunities are limitless.

Upon reflection, perhaps I have lost control of my thinking processes and my dreams. I forgot to keep my focus on the real issue. P.E.I. is a rural, farming and fishing province. Of course, there has to be urban centres but 70 per cent of the land mass is involved in rural activities which are not compatible with urban bureaucracies.

So why does the government want to urbanize a rural province? Why does the government want to saddle these rural residents with all the encumbrances of an urban system? This wrongheaded plan defies reality and common sense.

The residents of rural P.E.I. need to stand together, to create a counter balance to the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities, not become a part of it. If we do not unite, we are sitting ducks. The government will divide and conquer us until we no longer exist.

People in the unincorporated areas of the Island need to create an association of our own. This can be accomplished by coming together, through our fire districts, and choosing people to represent local residents. Then, we can develop networks to communicate and create a lobby force to make sure our voices are heard and our way of life is protected.

I encourage people to send a message to the Premier (premier@gov.pe.ca) and their MLA urging them to leave unincorporated areas out of amalgamation processes. This is not the right governance solution for rural Islanders.

Go to the Facebook pages of Unincorporated Islanders, RuralresistancePEI and We are rural strong. Get involved; it matters to your way of life.

Residents of unincorporated areas in the Cardigan, Georgetown and Montague Fire Districts will vote in a plebiscite on January 20 and 22, 2018, yes or no to amalgamation. We need people to vote and we need the support of all unincorporated Islanders on this issue. It is our issue today and tomorrow, it will be yours.

- Sylvia Teasdale is a resident of the unincorporated rural area of Burnt Point near Georgetown. She can be reached at sylvia.teasdale@gmail.com


Number 6 of the Plastic Free Life may or may not be applicable (living in the country tends to reduce pizza-delivery): Refuse the little plastic "table" that may be placed in the middle of the pizza box.


For the next couple of weeks, this newsletter is reprinting the series of poems gathered by the BBC's poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and published two years ago.

A Climate Change poem for today, from the U.K. Guardian's series in 2015:


by Jackie Kay

Scottish poet (b. 1961)

printed on Friday, May 15th, 2015, in The Guardian

We closed the borders, folks, we nailed it.

No trees, no plants, no immigrants.

No foreign nurses, no Doctors; we smashed it.

We took control of our affairs. No fresh air.

No birds, no bees, no HIV, no Poles, no pollen.

No pandas, no polar bears, no ice, no dice.

No rainforests, no foraging, no France.

No frogs, no golden toads, no Harlequins.

No Greens, no Brussels, no vegetarians, no lesbians.

No carbon curbed emissions, no Co2 questions.

No lions, no tigers, no bears. No BBC picked audience.

No loony lefties, please. No politically correct classes.

No classes. No Guardian readers. No readers.

No emus, no EUs, no Eco warriors, no Euros,

No rhinos, no zebras, no burnt bras, no elephants.

We shut it down! No immigrants, no immigrants.

No sniveling-recycling-global-warming nutters.

Little man, little woman, the world is a dangerous place.

Now, pour me a pint, dear. Get out of my fracking face.

January 5, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here is a link to the Political Panel from Friday, December 29th, 2017, looking on the end of the fall Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, with Mary Lynn Kane, Dennis King and Paul MacNeill joined by Green Party supporter Roy Johnstone. Everyone has a pretty good partisan time ;-)




The following criticism could be considered partisan, but it's really very clear criticism of the situation:


Other examples of a real farce - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, January 4th, 2018

What an embarrassment - getting an opposition member thrown out of the Legislative Assembly for telling the truth. A farce - thank you, Mr. Bevan-Baker for calling it as it is.

What is a farce? One of the long-standing Merriam-Webster's Dictionary's definitions of a farce: 'An empty or patently ridiculous act, proceeding, or situation.'

1) Having a provincial whistleblower report to the Premier? Of course, good whistleblower - goodbye job, goodbye pension. A farce.

2) Not stating that water be given the status of a human right? The Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRWS) was recognized as a human right by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. But not here in P.E.I. A farce.

The real farce would be the result, if the honourable Liberals had been asked, if they had actually read all of the proposed bills and amendments. Perhaps they should have been given - before voting - a test to see if they knew what they were voting for; and if they hadn't read every word or failed a test on the legislation they not be allowed to vote. After all, we, the citizens - the real bosses of government - elected these members to represent us, not to be puppets.

The Conservative party made a good showing in all this - chasing a stick it didn't want to find.

A strong majority government has to be watched carefully. Anything will pass. And well hidden, if it can't be explained.

Gary Walker, Charlottetown


Plastic-Free Life No 5 -- Avoiding plastic cutlery and straws (bring your own utensils)

This might make one feel a bit like Hagrid from the Harry Potter series with his coat pockets of stuff, reading to go on a short camping trip. However, a spork....

(this image from a Spanish dictionary)

....or a pair of chopsticks stuffed in your pack or purse is actually pretty useful. There are pretty good metal straws available now, and paper ones may be making a comeback, for those who do like their straws. An Etsy idea for those who can sew would be a little pouch (which could also serve as a napkin).


The Climate Change Poetry series. And today, zoos. Paul Muldoon is a 61-year old Irish poet, who writes:

For whatever reason, people, including very well-educated people or people otherwise interested in reading, do not read poetry.

The other side of it is that, despite all that, people reach out to poetry at the key moments in their lives.

A climate change poem for today: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/14/a-climate-change-poem-for-today-zoological-positivism-blues-by-paul-muldoon

Zoological Positivism Blues

by Paul Muldoon

published on Thursday, May 15th, 2015, in The Guardian (U.K.)

Come with me to the petting zoo

Its waist high turnstile gate

Come with me to the petting zoo

We’ll prove it’s not too late

For them to corner something new

They can humiliate

You know the zoo in Phoenix Park

Began with one wild boar

It’s in the zoo in Phoenix Park

We heard the lion roar

And disappointment made its mark

On the thorn forest floor

I guess we’ll hire two folding bikes

They rent them by the day

I guess we’ll hire two folding bikes

And you’ll meet me halfway

Why do orangutans look like

They’re wearing bad toupees?

The mealworm and the cricket snacks

The tender foliage

The mealworm and the cricket snacks

They’re still stored in a fridge

For when the polar bears start back

Across the old land bridge

You snuggled up to me at dawn

For fear I’d oversleep

You snuggled up to me at dawn

The tickets are dirt cheap

For outings in the carriage drawn

By two Merino sheep

So come with me to the petting zoo

And we’ll see how things stand

Come with me to the petting zoo

I’ll learn to take commands

I’m sure we’ll find something to do

If we’ve time on our hands

--Paul Muldoon

January 4, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

No public school today, and that may be a good time to think about the upheavals that have taken place in education during the Ghiz-MacLauchlan years.


A change in education policy - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Paul W. Bennett

Creeping educational centralization: What’s wrong and how to set it right

Published on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Small schools on the Island got a temporary reprieve in the spring of 2017 when the P.E.I. government’s latest reorganization scheme fell apart. Once the cheering died down, this much was clear: it was a small victory in a much larger battle to reclaim public accountability and local democracy in education.

Centralization of educational policy-making since the 1990s has, according to Memorial University professor Gerald Galway, gradually eroded the governance role and significance of school districts in relation to provincial education authorities. The Island is now a prime example of what can go wrong with ‘peak’ educational centralization. Top-down decision-making rules, and local school district governance is virtually extinct.

The latest wave of educational restructuring in P.E.I. originated during the 2008-2009 school year with hotly-disputed school closures in the Eastern District School Board. The stage had actually been set in August 2008 with the release of an Ascent Strategy Group consultant’s report, Schools for Tomorrow. It alerted Islanders to the demographic challenge of student enrolment declines of two per cent per year over the next 10 years and recommended a new “framework for change” to prepare schools for the future.

Small rural schools, Superintendent Sandy MacDonald said, “cannot offer comprehensive training in specialty areas” and closing them would ensure that students had “the opportunity to access quality programming in well-resourced facilities.” That declaration not only set the rural heather on fire, it set in motion a cycle of educational restructuring that lasted for seven years and completely eroded local education governance on the Island.

A critical turning point was the appointment, in January 2010, of Doug Currie as the province’s Minister of Education, and, shortly thereafter, the elevation of MacDonald to Deputy Minister of Education. Elected regional school boards were eliminated in two stages, starting with the firing of the Eastern School Board in 2011, and leading to the establishment of a single province-wide English school board.

Wade MacLauchlan’s new Liberal government elected in May of 2015 came into office looking for more educational changes. The English Language Board and the government went to war over staffing cuts, totaling 28 teaching positions, and the decision to transfer curriculum delivery from the board to the department. When the board went $3-million over budget in October 2015, the government resolved the matter by sweeping away the one remaining English Language School Board.

The new education governance model, announced in November 2015, completed the centralization agenda. It transferred authority to the Public Schools Branch, dissolved the remaining board, and replaced it with three new provincial advisory bodies, a Learning Partners’ Advisory Council, a P.E. I. Principals’ Council and network of District Advisory Councils.

Centralization became official P.E.I education policy. The MacLauchlan government simply absorbed the school board into the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture and the three new advisory bodies reported directly to the department.

A new “made-in- P.E.I.” model of education governance, proclaimed in February 2016, eliminated the role of school board superintendent. In place of elected boards, the province set out to establish what was termed a “learning partnership” with the Learning Partners Advisory Council and the other two provincial advisory bodies.

In September 2016, the Public Schools Branch assumed control of the whole system and issued Policy 14, Board Governance Policy. It confirmed that English Language school governance was now vested in a three-person Public Schools Branch Board, chaired by the Deputy Minister of Education, Susan Willis.

When the P.E.I. government resumed its school closure process in October 2016, the whole plan, Better Learning For All, aroused a firestorm of rural school protest and put the whole governance structure to the test.

Former senior civil servant Allan Rankin of Hunter River, P.E.I., directly challenged Willis in February 2016 on whether the Island would be better off with elected school boards. In response, Willis simply toed the official line, explaining the education pecking order.

Confronted with a barrage of public resistance, spearheaded by a Rural Strong movement, MacLauchlan and Currie finally relented on April 4, 2017. A mere 15-hours after the Public Schools Branch voted to close two schools in Georgetown and Charlottetown’s St. Jean district, they pulled the plug on the whole exercise.

“Islanders had spoken loudly and clearly,” the Premier stated, as he overturned the work of the Deputy Minister and his own Public Schools Branch. Clearly, the new governance model had utterly failed its first critical test.

Top-down decision-making buttressed by province-wide advisory groups will never work on the Island. The plan was never intended to save education tax dollars and it’s proven to be a total bust when it comes to ensuring public accountability and upholding local democracy in education.

In the year ahead, Premier MacLauchlan and his new Minister of Education have a chance to reverse the pattern, building from the schools up, and to set it right, once and for all.

- Paul W. Bennett, EdD, is Director of Schoolhouse Institute, a co-founder of the Nova Scotia Small Schools Initiative, and an education researcher specializing in public sector governance.


The No. 4 suggestion for a plastic-free life is a reusable mug for coffee, to reduce the number of paper, but actually plastic-lined, take-out cups. For some of us, this asks for a bit of planning and changes to how we do things. Suggestions?


A climate change poem for today, from The Guardian (U.K.)'s project in 2015:

The Solace of Artemis by Paula Meehan

for Catriona Crowe

I read that every polar bear alive has mitochondrial DNA

from a common mother, an Irish brown bear who once

roved out across the last ice age, and I am comforted.

It has been a long hot morning with the children of the machine,

their talk of memory, of buying it, of buying it cheap, but I,

memory keeper by trade, scan time coded in the golden hive mind

of eternity. I burn my books, I burn my whole archive:

a blaze that sears, synapses flaring cell to cell where

memory sleeps in the wax hexagonals of my doomed and melting comb.

I see him loping towards me across the vast ice field

to where I wait in the cave mouth, dreaming my cubs about the den,

my honied ones, smelling of snow and sweet oblivion.

-- Paula Meehan

January 3, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This afternoon:

Coalition for Women in Government New Year's Levee, 4-6PM, St. Peter's Hall, All Souls' Lane, Charlottetown. All welcome, sure to be great conversation. Facebook event details


from yesterday's Guardian, Atlantic region columnist Russell Wangersky:


Poisoning the planet with plastic - The Guardian columnist Russell Wangersky

As you sow, so shall you eat.

OK, that’s not really the saying, but you’ll see what I mean in a moment.

It always amazes me that, no matter how far away from the beaten track you get, you can always find plastic trash.

Deep in Nova Scotia’s Highway 8, on the long empty run from west coast to east, I stopped near Harmony Mills for just a moment, only to find Captain Morgan starting at me from a floating plastic flask bottle in the ditch. A handful of miles later, passed regularly by speeding logging trucks, a stop next to a slowly regrowing clear-cut included an empty plastic vodka bottle and two plastic water bottles.

Atop a knuckle of high-ground rock between Newfoundland’s Adam’s Cove and Bradley’s Cove, there was the skeleton of a dead sheep with grass growing up through its ribs, a stone fire pit with long-soaked half-burned logs and a collection of plastic bottles, nestled together as if seeking warmth.

P.E.I.’s sand beaches are gorgeous, but you can play a game of collecting plastic twist-off bottle caps and never get skunked — in fact, never be short of a full handful, no matter how far away you walk from the main beaches.

Scientists have found plastics, and their broken-down microplastic bits, in places so far flung that humans have never actually been there. A study released in mid-November found that, at the bottom of the deepest ocean trenches in the world — the Mariana, Japan, Izu-Bonin, Peru-Chile, New Hebrides and Kermadec trenches in the Pacific — as much as 100 per cent of deep-sea crustaceans were found to have plastic fibres in their digestive systems.

In fact, when it comes to the ocean, there are now suggestions that there is plastic simply everywhere: there are the well-known and well-reported giant spinning gyres of floating trash in the Pacific, off Chile, and, most recently, in the Caribbean. The images of near-endless plastic waste floating in vast mats is startling enough.

But research done off Norway is even more startling, not because you can see the plastic, but because you can’t.

Scientists with the Norwegian Institute of Water Research sampled blue mussels — the ones that are so popular for human consumption — for microplastics contamination at 13 sites along the Norwegian coast, including a site at Finnmark, the furthest northern edge of the country. At every single site, mussels — which are filter-feeders — were found to be carrying tiny plastic bits in their internal organs. Out of the entire sample, 76.6 per cent of the mussels were contaminated with plastics.

And not just basic plastics: “In addition to semi-synthetic cellulosic polymers, other polymers isolated from blue mussels included polyesters, polypropylene and polyethylene, Ethylene-vinyl acetate foam and epoxy resin. Potential sources of these particles could range from textiles, general use plastics, paints, and finally, oil and tar,” the report says.

And the problem’s only going to grow: “Microplastic pollution is projected to increase in the foreseeable future with the continued environmental breakdown and fragmentation of present stocks and future production of plastic items.”

Already, 97 per cent of beached litter in the Arctic is plastic. For those marine organisms, eating plastic has clear problems: the mussel study points out that, “Laboratory studies have identified some potential effects of microplastic exposure including: increased immune response, decreased food consumption, weight loss, energy depletion, decreased growth rate, decreased fecundity and impacts on subsequent generations.”

So far, there aren’t comparable concerns about humans eating plastic-contaminated sea life. But you know, we’re animals, too — and you are what you eat.

If anything, we deserve to suffer the effects of our mess.

Nature’s only giving back what we regularly give it.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 39 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@thetelegram.com


The actions get a little more complicated to implement completely for some of us, but sharing ideas and raising awareness among businesses helps:

from: 100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life

Reducing plastic in your life #3:

Carry your own containers for take out food and leftovers.

Here is a huge article on bringing your own containers,


And here is an organization ("Takeout Without" working on eliminating restaurant take-out waste:



A climate change poem for today:

Mancunian Taxi-Driver Foresees His Death

by Michael Symmons Roberts

published on Tuesday, May 12th, 2018, in The Guardian (U.K.)


On a radio show some self-help guru says

the earth will burn out in a hundred years

so treat each day as an eternity.

I am in a taxi when I hear this news,

airport-bound on the flyover

with my home town spread like a map below.

So my driver slams his foot to the floor,

and tells me that when the oil runs out

he will ship this cab to Arizona,

find the last fill-up on the planet,

drain the pump and power out into the wilderness

until the car coughs, then abandon it.

He will take from the dash this shot of his daughters,

his shark’s tooth on its chain,

then leave the radio with an audience

of skulls and vultures. I wind the window down

to catch my breath and ask what kind

of funeral is that? Then him: It’s just a made-up one.

He drops me by the long-haul sign

and I give him a tip well over the odds.

As I stand with my bags it begins to rain.

A man smiles down from a floodlit billboard

– well insured, invested, sound –

which leaves me feeling heartsore, undefended.

January 2, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

It's a bit of a quiet day as some but not all things are returning to their regular scheduling. There will be lots to catch up on in the coming weeks.

But here is something completely different, an article from November on progressive business media website, Fast Company:


Are You Ready to Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem? - The Fast Company online article by Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk

Before you say no, take a moment to really ask yourself whether it's the system that's best suited to build our future society.

(the website is quick to say it doesn't necessary endorse the views of the authors)

In February, college sophomore Trevor Hill stood up during a televised town hall meeting in New York and posed a simple question to Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. He cited a study by Harvard University showing that 51% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support the system of capitalism, and asked whether the Democrats could embrace this fast-changing reality and stake out a clearer contrast to right-wing economics.

Pelosi was visibly taken aback. “I thank you for your question,” she said, “but I’m sorry to say we’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.”

The footage went viral. It was powerful because of the clear contrast it set up. Trevor Hill is no hardened left-winger. He’s just your average millennial—bright, informed, curious about the world, and eager to imagine a better one. But Pelosi, a figurehead of establishment politics, refused to–or was just unable to–entertain his challenge to the status quo.

It’s not only young voters who feel this way. A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 64% of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the U.S., it’s as high as 55%. In Germany, a solid 77% are skeptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

Why do people feel this way? Probably not because they deny the abundant material benefits of modern life that many are able to enjoy. Or because they want to travel back in time and live in the U.S.S.R. It’s because they realize—either consciously or at some gut level—that there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on.

Because let’s be clear: That’s what capitalism is, at its root. That is the sum total of the plan. We can see this embodied in the imperative to grow GDP, everywhere, year on year, at a compound rate, even though we know that GDP growth, on its own, does nothing to reduce poverty or to make people happier or healthier. Global GDP has grown 630% since 1980, and in that same time, by some measures, inequality, poverty, and hunger have all risen.


the rest of the article (and it is not that long) is here at the same link:



A reminder that the Coalition for Women in Government levee is tomorrow, Wednesday, from 4-6PM, at St. Peter's Cathedral Hall, which is tucked in on All Souls' Lane, in Charlottetown.

Many wonderful community people have amazing artistic talent they share, and Ellie Reddin has asked me to invite people in the extended Cornwall area to consider joining the Cornwall Community Choir, which is planning a winter term from January 10th to March 10th, 2018. "No previous choir experience necessary....we practice traditional and contemporary music that is fun to sing." Practices are Wednesdays from 12:30PM-2:15PM at the West River United Church (formerly Cornwall United Church), with a concert on March 10th. There is a small registration fee for music and other costs.

If interested, please contact Valda at (902) 367-4756 before Friday, January 5th.


Reducing plastic in your life No. 2 is Carry Reusable Shopping Bags -- which many of us do, but just need refinement in making it more of a habit in all places, and encouraging others, too.


The second Climate Change poem published was published on Monday, May 11th 2015, in The Guardian (U.K.) is by Alice Oswald, who is currently BBC Radio 4's Poet-in-Residence, and a gardener. Here is her Wikipedia entry. The poem is also read by Ruth Wilson, on the website link.

A climate change poem for today:


by Alice Oswald

May I shuffle forward and tell you the two minute life of rain

Starting right now lips open and lidless-cold all-seeing gaze

When something not yet anything changes its mind like me

And begins to fall

In the small hours

And the light is still a flying carpet

Only a little white between worlds like an eye opening after an operation

No turning back

each drop is a snap decision

A suicide from the tower-block of heaven

And for the next ten seconds

The rain stares at the ground

Sees me stirring here

As if sculpted in porridge

Sees the garden in the green of its mind already drinking

And the grass lengthening

Stalls ...

Maybe a thousand feet above me

A kind of yellowness or levity

Like those tiny alterations that brush the legs of swimmers

Lifts the rain a little to the left

No more than a flash of free-will

Until the clouds close their options and the whole melancholy air surrenders to pure fear and ... falls

And I who live in the basement

one level down from the world

with my eyes to the insects with my ears to the roots listening

I feel them in my bones these dead straight lines

Coming closer and closer to my core

This is the sound this is the very floor

Where Grief and his Wife are living looking up

January 1, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy New Year!

Though there are lots of resolution lists out there -- here is one called

"100 Top Ways to reduce Plastic Waste"

(No. 1 is "Give up Bottle Water", so they start with relatively little change per person but with a big impact overall)

Here is a list of Levees for today from Peter Rukavina:



Taking a year off the Global Chorus anthology, but hoping to find something similar-yet-different to share. With Global Chorus, Todd MacLean produced something quite unique, and not easily duplicated :-)

January will be offerings from The Guardian's (the U.K. one's) "Keep it in the Ground" series of poems on climate change. The series was curated and the first is by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom since 2009.


From May of 2015 (that was around the time of our provincial election, by the way), her introductory article, followed by her poem:


An anthology of poetry on climate change - The Guardian (UK) article by Carol Ann Duffy

Published on May 11, 2015, in The Guardian (U.K.)

If information was all we needed, we’d have solved climate change by now. The scientific position has been clear for decades. Researchers have been waving a big red flag that has been impossible for our politicians to miss. Even Margaret Thatcher was giving speeches about global warming in 1988. So why have we made so little progress? Why do carbon emissions continue to rise seemingly inexorably?

Information, it seems, is not enough. Journalists have transmitted the warnings of scientists, but they have sometime focussed too much on the mini-controversies and the unimportant disagreements and not enough on the big picture. That has often left readers confused.

As the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger explained when he introduced the paper’s "Keep it in the Ground project", journalism struggles with climate change. It may be the biggest issue of our generation but we feel individually powerless or that solutions lie somewhere in the future. As Rusbridger says, journalism is a “rear view mirror”: good at telling you what has happened but not so good at explaining what’s round the next bend.

Climate change journalism can often also be full of institutional acronyms and difficult to digest science. The UNFCCC, Contracts for Difference, common but differentiated responsibilities and methane clathrates don’t say “read me” to most of us. What’s missing for the reader is often an emotional or aesthetic connection.

That is where this comes in. Alan Rusbridger asked me to curate a series of 20 poems that respond to the topic of climate change. The brief was to reach parts of the Guardian readers’ hearts and minds that the reporting, investigations, videos, podcasts and the rest had failed to reach.

The result is a series of new work from a variety of poets commissioned specially for the "Keep it in the Ground" project. The authors include Paul Muldoon, Michael Longley and Gillian Clarke and the poets have interpreted the work in many different ways. Jackie Kay writes from the heart of a general election in Planet Farage; Simon Armitage imagines the last snowman; Alice Oswald strikes a note of heart-stopping grief.

I hope that these poems will connect with people in surprising and different ways and, in the process, help them in some small way perhaps to see our world differently.



by Carol Ann Duffy

Then in the writers’ wood,

every bird with a name in the world

crowded the leafless trees,

took its turn to whistle or croak.

An owl grieved in an oak.

A magpie mocked. A rook

cursed from a sycamore.

The cormorant spoke:

Stinking seas

below ill winds. Nothing swims.

A vast plastic soup, thousand miles

wide as long, of petroleum crap.

A bird of paradise wept in a willow.

The jewel of a hummingbird shrilled

on the air.

A stork shawled itself like a widow.

The gull said:

Where coral was red, now white, dead

under stunned waters.

The language of fish

cut out at the root.

Mute oceans. Oil like a gag

on the Gulf of Mexico.

A woodpecker heckled.

A vulture picked at its own breast.

Thrice from the cockerel, as ever.

The macaw squawked:

Nouns I know -

Rain. Forest. Fire. Ash.

Chainsaw. Cattle. Cocaine. Cash.

Squatters. Ranchers. Loggers. Looters.

Barons. Shooters.

A hawk swore.

A nightingale opened its throat

in a garbled quote.

A worm turned in the blackbird’s beak.

This from the crane:

What I saw - slow thaw

in permafrost broken terrain

of mud and lakes

peat broth seepage melt

methane breath.

A bat hung like a suicide.

Only a rasp of wings from the raven.

A heron was stone a robin blood

in the written wood.

So snow and darkness slowly fell

the eagle, history, in silhouette,

with the golden plover,

and the albatross

telling of Arctic ice

as the cold, hard moon calved from the earth.

-- Parliament features in Carol Anne Duffy’s The Bees anthology