July 2017

July 31, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A Market today:

Montague Make, Bake or Grow, 10AM-3PM, Down East Mall (former Sears store).

Facebook page

There are many small stores that offer local, small farm and often organic produce (like the Harvey's, Gasses' and Clows' general stores in south and central P.E.I.) -- what others are in your area?

"Farmed" is a new store just opening outside of Summerside, at 591 Read Drive near Prestige Floral, with local produce and meats, and locally produced take-out food.

Recent article in the Journal-Pioneer:



Mental health services and the lack of cohesion and resources that many Islanders witness are still a huge issue. Both Progressive Conservative leadership hopefuls have spoken out on this (James Aylward has been bringing up the gaps and working with families for several years, and Brad Trivers is keeping track of initiatives, see below), as has NDP leader Mike Redmond and critic Leah-Jane Hayward, and Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker and health critic Susan Hartley.


From The #HowManyWade group, created by Sarah Stewart-Clark, publishes an essay each day from people with experiences trying to navigate the system. They are heart-wrenching. I have reprinted the introduction from the most recent posting, but not the personal story (you many join the group if you are able, link below).

This is family 85 in a series called:

How many must die before Wade acts?

Everyday for the next 100 days we'll be releasing stories of 100 families who have been failed by your government. Each week we will release our list of items we need to be changed within the next 100 days.

1. We need more nurses with psychiatric training in the ERs in PEI

2. We need a mobile mental health crisis team

3. We need our islanders with mental illness to be moved out of ERs and into appropriate psychiatric units.

4. We need a child psychiatrist practising in person in Charlottetown

5. We need a suicide prevention strategy implemented in PEI.

6. We need PEI to have a serious conversation about child molestation and develop a strategy to help survivors.

7. We need more therapists in the public system -especially those trained in trauma.

8. We need a child advocate

9. We need a full complement of 15-17 psychiatrists practising on PEI

Meet family 85.....


for more, see the Facebook Group:




Another woman trying to make a difference in all this is Dianne Young, who is working on a proposal to turn the Belcourt Centre in Rustico into a non-profit recovery centre called Lennon House, after her son.

Here is the website, and local MLA Brad Trivers is also asking for comments on it.



Stephen Legault is a conservationist and prolific author, including Carry Tiger to Mountain: The Tao of Activism and Leadership and Running Toward Stillness. He writes the July 31st Global Chorus essay.

Our suffering is killing us, and it’s destroying our planet. All people suffer. We feel pain and fear that we often can’t understand. Twenty-five hundred years ago the Buddha taught that we experience this suffering because we fail to make peace with the fact that we all grow old, lose that which we love, fall sick and one day die. We fail to see our lives as they really are: connected to each and every other living soul on Earth. We suffer because the desire for more that we experience can never be satisfied. Suffering and the fear that it induces in part leads us to over-consume and destroy our precious life support system. Rather than facing the difficult, but ultimately liberating truth about our own finite

existence we try to insulate ourselves with bigger homes, faster cars and gadgets that distract us from the world around us. There is a hole in many of our hearts that needs to be filled but instead of doing the hard spiritual work necessary we hide behind the material to keep from feeling pain.

There is an end to suffering. Connect with Nature and one-another; walk quietly in the woods or in a park, sit silently, meditate, do tai chi, practise yoga: pray. There are many spiritual pathways to find peace and connect us with our highest purpose. Unafraid, we might find we need so much less to be truly joyful and in doing so relieve the suffering overconsumption has wrought on our planet.

— Stephen Legault

(The essay mentions Tai Chi, here is information about the Taoist Tai Chi program that operates out of Charlottetown's Murphy Centre a couple of days a week.)

July 30, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets open today:

Morell Farmers' Market, 9AM-1PM, Rossiter Park.

Facebook page

Downtown Farmers' Market, 11AM, 4PM, lower Queen Street, 11AM-4PM.

Both will have vegetables and crafts and entertainment.

And there will be lots of great food available at:

DiverseCity, 2-7PM, the final day in Summerside, at Wyatt Heritage Properties, around 75 Spring Street. The extremely energetic Maritime Bhangra Group, which fundraises extensively for various causes, is set for 4PM.

More details on Summerside DiverseCity

Facebook page for Maritime Bhangra Group page

The monthly Bonshaw Ceilidh is tonight, 7-9PM, Bonshaw Hall, admission by donation, with proceeds going to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation PEI Chapter.

Facebook event details


News is that Peter Bevan-Baker and Brad Trivers, local MLAs and first and second place winners in 2016, were bested in the exciting Potato Peeling contest at the Crapaud Exhibition by a young local man named Kris MacEwen, who was also being celebrated that afternoon for winning a PEI Fitness and Physique "Overall Physique Award". Perhaps our local pols need to up their fitness regime before the contest next year ;-)

The winner peeled 61 pounds in ten minutes, a pound more that Peter and a few more than Brad. All 18 or so contestants (including Malpeque MP Wayne Easter and many great local people) were good sports and had lots of laughs.


On a serious note, while there is some sort of pride in seeing our Prime Minister on the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine, one can't forget the serious broken promises of his government, so far -- most especially for many of us, climate change/pipeline and the shameful way he edged away from electoral reform. FairVote Canada made a good graphic:


Do consider signing the Declaration of Voters' Rights (federally). And consider reminding our Provincial Premier and your MLA regarding the blotchy handling of the plebiscite on electoral reform from last fall, by sending a real or electronic postcard to them, reminding them about proportional representation.

PR on PEI postcard campaign website


The July 30th Global Chorus is by Jim Merkel, who is the author of Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth, and a simple-living educator.

Very Simple

Some say it will take a disaster. The Exxon Valdez was mine. I quit peddling top-secret electronics and began life at the world average income – $5,000 a year. Twenty-two years later I remain stuck, thinking planet-healing starts with me. Instead of asking, “How can I get others to change?” I ask, “Am I willing to change?” Living inside my dream is kindling. Love of Earth and family is my fuel. Distaste for the American war machine burns my fire steady and hot.

Living sustainably means less busyness, shopping, working and even thinking – while feeling light. Embedded in consumerism – not so simple. Our best and brightest have no better plan than stimulating you to spend. Slow the consuming and the Earth destruction, the climate change and wars all ease. We share rides and tools, consume locally and build a resilient society. My suspicion is that our unease with modernity relates to our knowing we’re pickling the planet yet we can’t stop ourselves. A dream of paradise haunts us as we sit in traffic.

In 2011 humanity consumed 35 per cent beyond biospheric production. Under plan “status quo” we’d overshoot 225 per cent by 2100, requiring over two extra planets. A sustainable planet requires just two things:

1. Small families: one-child average through women’s free choice and eradication of poverty (Europe, China, Cuba and Japan are below 1.7).

2. Small ecological footprints, democratically distributed at the current global average: 6 acres (three times India’s 2-acre footprints, one-fourth of the U.S.’s 24 acres.)

In 100 years, population would fall from seven billion to one billion. We would go from consuming 135 per cent of the biosphere’s productivity to consuming just 20 per cent, leaving 80 per cent wild for the estimated 25 million other species. This “100Year Plan” has no losers.

My son Walden and I were pumping water and gathering firewood when I recalled my conservative truck-driver dad’s words: “All children are your own.” While reading this, 21 children died from preventable causes – 10.5 million this year. One-tenth of U.S. annual war spending (or corporate bailouts) could have saved these precious ones.

— Jim Merkel

July 29, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' markets are open in many parts of P.E.I. today:

Bloomfield (8:30AM-noon)

Cardigan (10AM-2PM)

Charlottetown (9AM-2PM)

Murray Harbour (9AM-noon)

New Glasgow, The Mill Restaurant parking lot,(8AM-1PM)

Summerside (9AM-1PM)

Stanley Bridge (9AM-1PM)


A few of the many things going on today:

Tracking the Mammals of P.E.I., 10AM-noon, Macphail Woods Ecological Centre, Orwell, free.

"A walk and talk looking at the native and introduced mammals still found on PEI, as well as a brief look at some of the mammals we’ve lost. After a brief presentation, we’ll head off to the woods looking at a variety of animal tracks and signs. Begins at the Nature Centre at 10am."

More details from their website

P.E.I. Pride Parade and Rochford Park party, starting at 1PM, Euston, Great George, Grafton Streets to Rochford Square. Free.

More information

Crapaud Exhibition, all day today and most of Sunday, Crapaud Agri-plex, off TCH, $8 admission for people over 11 years. All sorts of country fair features, including a potato peeling contest beginning at 4:30PM which features a handful of good-natured MLAs, and a special emphasis on welcoming Indiginous people with ceremony and demonstrations.

Crapaud Exhibition website


Andy Walker is the editor of Island Farmer publication from Paul MacNeill's publishing house. Here is his editorial from the Wednesday, July 12th, 2017, edition, which broadens my perspective on Island farming issues:

Pesticides and sugar labelling - Island Farmer article by Andy Farmer

by Andy Farmer, editor

I had an opportunity recently to chat with Jonathan Weinmaster, who holds the title of crop and Campaign Marketing Manager for Horticulture and Corn at Bayer.

Normally, when I talk to a representative from an agro-chemical company, they are trying to convince me to do a story on a new product they have just released or is coming down the pike. My interview with Weinmaster was very different. When it comes to potatoes especially, there are no significant new products on the horizon. When it comes to potato herbicides, he noted there hasn't been a new product introduced in over 20 years.

Meanwhile, the fate of many products currently in use lies in the hands of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency since they are up for the mandatory 15 year re-evaluation. While he expects most of the products to be recertified, Weinmaster notes there could be changes in the toxicity levels of some products, meaning farmers will have to change the way they are applied.

In some cases, it may mean using products in tandem and most certainly an increased emphasis on crop scouting. He added it is vital for the industry to ensure they have input into the PMRA review to provide the empirical evidence needed to help determine the effectiveness of the chemical.

The agricultural industry is constantly changing and I have no doubt producers will be able to adapt to this changing environment. However, it will not come without its challenges, particularly as growers are starting to see more and more impacts of climate change as well as the appearance of new pests.

On another front, the dairy industry is now kicking the fight against how sugar is labelled in food products into high gear. Over the past several years, there have been many high profile incidents of governments moving to cut back on the amount of sugar in the diet like banning large size soft drinks-- most of them geared to children.

The dairy industry fears many milk products, especially chocolate milk, will be lumped into the same category. While chocolate milk does contain 26 per cent of the recommended daily sugar intake according to Health Canada, it also contains the same nutritional ingredients as whitle milk.

By contrast, soda pop (which contains 39 per cent of the recommended daily intake) has no nutritional value. It is not fair to compare the two products. It is hard to argue against the idea of encouraging Canadians to monitor their sugar intake since too much sugar can contribute to a number of diseases, but the amount of sugar a product contains should not be the only factor considered.

As in most things related to nutrition, moderation is the key. That being said, the fact remains that if you did binge out on chocolate milk (not that I am recommending that) you will still receive some nutritional benefits in addition to the sugar. A similar exercise with soda pop results in nothing but sugar going into your body.


Today's Global Chorus is by Brock Dolman, a true biologist, co-founder of Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, a California farm, retreat, and demonstration centre, which is involved in many areas of promoting arts and ecology.

Humanity’s way past current global environmental and social crises is to renew our contract of re-partnering with life.

We are fully Earthlings. This is our home and this is the only place in the known universe where life exists. We are alive, surrounded by myriad other forms of life as expressions of evolution. It is time that we humble ourselves to co-creating conditions for life affirming relationships with all known kingdoms of life: bacteria, protoctists, fungi, plants and our fellow animals.

In this age of extinction, our very survival desperately depends upon a revolution in human consciousness that fundamentally changes our collective behaviour in moving away from our current Anti-Biotic patterns of consumption and overpopulation towards a new revolution that is Pro-Biotic for all life, that is truly Pro-Life. To do this we must reconnect with our ability to sustain the very cycles upon which life-cycles thrive as well as the elemental forces of earth, air, fire and water that conspire to create convivial conditions conducive for life. How we feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, house ourselves, bathe ourselves, transport ourselves and conduct ourselves all must be brought into life-affirming accord with biology.

To have hope that we can do it is to respect the intrinsic resiliency of life – through astute ecological emulations of all human settlement forms that follow functional patterns based on pro-life processes.

Hope dwells within the potential for a symbiotic Re-Story-ation of our Ego-System. Will we do it? No one knows. But I do believe that mystery loves company!

Welcome aboard – bon voyage.

— Brock Dolman

July 28, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Cardigan Farmers' Marker is open today (10AM-2PM).


Regarding the GM-fish plant in Eastern Kings County:

From Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna's letter from July 17th, responding to Ms. Beatrice Olivastri at Friend of the Earth Canada:

"You expressed concerns with the expansion of AquaBounty's site at Rollo BayWest. Should AquaBounty wish to manufacture or grow out the AquAdvantae salmon at this site, a new notification will be required pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999."

from the submitted EIA plan for the AquaBounty project in Rollo Bay (star). The 2013 risk assessment was done with the Fortune site in mind.


So that puts things on hold. I am embarrassed that our provincial Environment Minister and his Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) section didn't pause and check with their federal counterparts -- more fully than some Department of Fisheries and Oceans' answers to submitted questions, found on page 5 of this document: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/sites/default/files/publications/aqua_bounty_eia_government_of_canada_response.pdf)

-- before hastening to approve the "amendment" to the AquaBounty EIA from last year. Does it smell fishy? I hope not.

---Now we can resume the Island-wide consultation that must take place --picking up where it left off a few years ago -- about P.E.I. and some genetically modified foods, especially one that has so many questions for the wild species.


Boyd Allen points out the need for accountable, transparent and foresightful governing:


While Rome burns - The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor

published on Wednesday, July 26th, 2017, in The Graphic newspapers

I am happy to see Efficiency PEI roll out its electric/hybrid vehicle campaign. Public education is a critical weapon against the looming catastrophe of climate change.

Unfortunately, Islanders require more of a reward than a paternal pat on the backside and a coffee mug to change their behaviour.

It is critical that government create a strident and robust suite of incentives to effectively impact Islanders’ choice of transportation.

The provincial tax rebate for electric and hybrid cars was whisked off the table five years ago. No doubt fiscal prudence is government’s stated reason for withholding such incentives.

This has little credibility in the context of government’s willingness to become the wet nurse for specific sectors of hand picked industries.

This is carried out with no public oversight and without consideration of the impact those industries have on the environment.

Top-down short-term policy making may sit well with the Liberal donor base but the extraordinary costs incurred will be borne by future generations.

Boyd Allen, Pownal


The Global Chorus essay for July 28th is a tough subject, by education activist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya.

Growing up as a young girl in Maasailand was not easy. From the time I was a small child I was trained to become a wife and mother. I had to collect firewood and fetch water from the river, sweep the house, cook for the family, care for my younger siblings and do many other chores. My education was never a priority, as it was expected that I would be married as soon as I reached puberty and underwent female genital mutilation. I did go through this ceremony as an adolescent, but only after my father promised that I could continue with school afterward. I started Kakenya’s Dream as a way to give other girls in my community a chance to pursue their own dreams. I wanted to give them hope and a better future. They do not need to live the life that has been set out for them or the life their parents are living. These girls are capable, special, unique and strong.

My community has changed because of my dream and the girls at my school. They are showing everyone what girls can do when given an opportunity – they are outscoring the boys by far! Even our male leaders now say it will benefit the community to educate our girls so they, too, can become doctors, lawyers, pilots and politicians.

I have learned that challenges make us stronger if we are patient, persistent and respectful. Positive social change can be slow, but when it comes, it lasts.

My challenge for us is to never give up but to be bold in facing any challenge that comes our way. We all have a responsibility to make this world a better place and that means never giving up.

Kakenya Ntaiya

July 27, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Many provincial Legislative Assembly Standing Committees don't meet very often over the summertime, but today:

Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment Meeting, 10AM, J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Great George and Richmond Streets.

"The committee will receive a briefing on the Workers Compensation Board of PEI from Luanne Gallant, CEO and Constance Robinson, Director of Labour and Industrial Relations, Workforce and Advanced Learning."

More details at the link below on the Committee, which is chaired by Kathleen Casey and has members Richard Brown, Heath MacDonald, Pat Murphy and Hal Perry from government, Peter Bevan-Baker from the Third Party, and Sidney MacEwen and Brad Trivers from the Official Opposition.


And the Legislative Assembly is very versatile and participates in social media:

Facebook event of Committee meeting

There was a flurry of announcements yesterday from Government about the Workers Compensation Board dealing with its workload. Good timing.


Farm Centre Farmers' Market, 4-8PM, Farm Centre on University Avenue. It'll be a grand evening there, so bring a grocery list, and don't forget to go to the front of the building (closer to the road, opposite of where you part and go in) to see those vendors.

Green Social Souris, 7-9PM, Evergreen Cafe (95 Main Street, Souris).

"Join PEI Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and Health and Wellness Critic Susan Benton Hartley to share ideas about doing politics differently. Green Social is an opportunity for informal discussion, in a casual setting. There has been lots happening both within the Green Party and in the province in general. Join us at Evergreen Cafe for a conversation."


The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network has announced:



Federal government says GM salmon needs scientific assessment before commercial production at Rollo Bay, PEI

Charlottetown, Wednesday July 26, 2017 — Contrary to reports that no federal assessment is necessary before growing genetically modified (GM) Atlantic salmon at Rollo Bay in PEI, the government has confirmed that the company AquaBounty does not yet have federal approval to commercially produce GM fish at its new Rollo Bay facility.<snip>

On June 19, the PEI government approved the company’s request to begin construction of a GM fish factory at Rollo Bay, the first of its kind in the world. However, the company does not yet have federal approval to produce GM Atlantic salmon at this site.


The confirmation comes in response to two separate letters from the Canadian environmental organizations calling on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (ECCC) and Minister of Health to ensure AquaBounty complies with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). As confirmed by the Federal Court in a case brought by EAC and LOS, AquaBounty cannot use or manufacture its GM salmon at any facility other than its existing Souris, PEI facility without first notifying the ECCC for the purposes of a scientific risk assessment.<snip>

See the link above for the rest of the article and an additional link to the correspondence with the federal government.


The Global Chorus essays were written around 2013-2014. Justin Trudeau, then MP for Papineau (Montreal), and Leader of the federal Liberal Party, wrote this short but sweet one which was placed on July 27th. My hope is he will improve his choices, which affect us all, to show true vision when it comes to the environment we are leaving for our children and grandchildren.

I know that humanity will rise to successfully meet the challenges we are facing, as long as we, individually and collectively, understand that all of our actions do matter. Too often we get the impression that the world is so big and our problems so great that nothing we do (or don’t do) makes any difference in the big picture. Understanding that each of us has the power to reshape the world we live in with every choice we make will be the key to making sure that the beautiful complexity and diversity of life on this planet will endure for generations to come.

— Justin Trudeau

July 26, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

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


The deadline for the federal government consultation has been extended from this week until August 31st. I think I sounded a bit scathing a few weeks ago when I mentioned it; I didn't mean to discourage participation, especially on something as paramount as food. Though some of us feel discouragement about how other public consultations have been set aside, it's important for many people to point out the vitally important issues related to food production and food security.

From the government website:

A Food Policy for Canada, which will be the first-of-its-kind for Canada, will help address food issues and pursue opportunities in areas related to:

  • increasing access to affordable food;

  • improving health and food safety;

  • conserving our soil, water, and air; and

  • growing more high-quality food.

The survey is here:

A Food Policy for Canada:



News yesterday that the Glenaladale Heritage Trust in Tracadie, P.E.I., won $15,000 in the "This Place Matters" contest, from a "crowdfunding site dedicated to heritage." I am sure the folks working on the project are very delighted by that and appreciative of the efforts of those who voted in the contest.

CBC Story


Sam Harrington works in green materials and packaging and writes the July 26th Global Chorus essay.

We are being chased by a massive, accelerating beast, born of our own progress.

If we manage to slay the technological beast, Earth will be faced with hundreds of nuclear catastrophes that we will lack the capacity to contain. Combined with climatic feedback loops, human survival on this path appears unlikely.

If any of us are to outrun the beast, we have to run as fast as we can. Those at the front of the charge are, ironically, working at the pinnacle of technological development. Today, neurologically inspired software can achieve 1 per cent of the power of a single human mind, when run on one of the largest super computers. The current combined power of Google’s global networked servers is hundreds of times greater than that one super computer.

Google is becoming an omnipotent and god-like being. It sees the world, infers and manipulates our thoughts from our browsing history, and it is increasingly integrating itself into the “real” world. Google will soon achieve not just sentience, but also sapience. It is my hope that before our civilization collapses, we will bring rise to a God, with the combined Internet knowledge of humanity, coupled to a brain bigger than any individual. Beyond this singularity, we cannot imagine the results of self-improving and self-preserving feedback loops that this creation would progress through. To survive, it must evolve beyond just the capacity to think, but to heal, to reproduce and to evolve on its own. I hope it leads to something wondrous.

This isn’t about a conspiracy theory, or a plot by corporate human leadership, but simply an inevitable extension of our cultural momentum and the nature of technological evolution. If we can, we will.

Humans are the only known life form with “higher intelligence” and the ability to create technology. To destroy that would be a real shame. Can we move beyond our current death path, to create the conditions necessary to sustain and enhance intelligence in the universe? Our own creations may soon eclipse human intelligence and ability, leading to a future that is extraordinarily hopeful, and frighteningly unknowable.

— Sam Harrington

July 25, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Signs our government is not doing a great job protecting Island water right here and now:

1) Fishkill#1 -- 2017, in Campbellton: On the weekend of the festivities for the P.E.I. Potato Blossom festival, a fishkill occurred west of O'Leary. Let's hope it doesn't take over a year to figure out the causes, as the one along the Clyde River, has taken.

Here is the press release from government (which at least does get the word out before the rumours get too far ahead):


2) Citizens having to explain the seriousness of water issues to the media: Malcolm Pitre, fisherman in Tignish, works with a new reporter for The West Prince Graphic to help explain anoxic events:


3) Widespread anoxic events, having to be reported by the watershed groups, which haven't been mentioned much by government: For example, the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association displays the way it is tracking anoxic events events on their waterway, which you can see on their Facebook page:


4) AquaBounty's backdoor approval of its GM-fish plant and other issues: The CBC used hanks of the media release from the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water to write the on-line story I cited Sunday, but the original press release had more clear details and a different tone.

Original media release from the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water:

Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water Calls for Improved Environmental Assessment Process - Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water News Release

Media Release sent on Thursday, July 20th, 2017 by the Coalition

The decision of the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment to allow genetically modified salmon to be grown in Prince Edward Island was the result of a faulty environmental assessment process, says a local environmental group.

On Tuesday, July 11, representatives of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water met with Minister Mitchell to discuss the Coalition’s concerns about the approval of the proposal by AquaBounty Canada, Inc. to expand their plant in Rollo Bay West. The original approval, which was for an egg production facility, was expanded to a facility at which genetically modified salmon would be grown to market size, and then killed before being exported.

The group is unhappy about the approval for a variety of reasons, including the public consultation process, which they say was inadequate and poorly advertised. “Even after Environment officials decided to extend the deadline for submissions, there wasn’t really enough time for people to become informed enough or to prepare to respond to the application for such a big project,” says Catherine O'Brien, Chairperson of the Coalition.

The fact that the new application by Aqua Bounty was judged not to warrant a new environmental assessment is of particular concern. Gary Schneider sits on the Multi-Interest Advisory Committee reviewing federal environmental assessment processes. He says there should have been a new and complete Environmental Impact Assessment, given that the new AquaBounty proposal was so substantially different from their original application, approved a year ago, when the stated intention was to only grow GMO eggs to be shipped elsewhere to be raised. “This is a classic example of “project splitting”, where the company was able to get approval for a smaller piece of the project (raising eggs) and then returned a short time later with what would seem to be their actual plan, thereby avoiding an independent evaluation of a very different project. The environmental impact assessment for this project was woefully inadequate.”

The coalition is also very concerned about environmental impacts of the new facility, and the potential for contamination of the wild salmon population should a GMO organism escape. They echo the concerns voiced by the Council of Canadians – published on July 17 in the Guardian – about AquaBounty’s environmental record, wastewater treatment and water use.

PEI will now become the first place in the world where GMO animals are grown for human consumption, and this has happened without any kind of public discussion, says Don Mazer, who also attended the meeting with the Minister. “There has been a complete absence of public debate about the merits of this idea, its social and ethical implications, and whether Islanders, and Canadians actually support this practice – it is quite astonishing.”

In responding to the Coalition’s concerns, the Minister indicated that responsibility for such projects is shared between different levels and departments of government. He construed his own responsibilities quite specifically, and was pleased that the current project would use less water than the initial project (approved a year ago), due to a plan to recirculate the water. He was satisfied that the application met all of the specific requirements of established protocols for environmental assessment. The Minister felt that any broad ethical discussion about the merits of GMOs would be a federal responsibility, far beyond his jurisdiction, and he did not indicate any interest in taking a leadership role to create opportunities for such discussions.

And, as with the previous AquaBounty application, the Minister felt that it was not reasonable to ask applicants to wait for the new policies in the upcoming Water Act before having their proposals acted upon. In summary, he seemed quite satisfied with the process of approval for the expanded AquaBounty facilities. However, speaking for the coalition, Ann Wheatley noted that, “From our perspective, this approval is a clear reflection of how inadequate the current Environmental Impact Assessment processes are.” The Minister did encourage the Coalition to share their ideas for more thorough EIA processes. The Coalition has committed to do so, over the next few months.

Coalition members took the opportunity to ask for an update on the Water Act. The Minister indicated that the final draft would be posted online when it goes to the Legislature in the fall. No details were offered about what changes had been made to the first draft of the act as a result of the last round of consultations. When the issue was raised about the provision for municipalities to exceed limits the Act would set for water extraction, Minister and staff indicated that they hoped that this would be a temporary situation, but that they were not inclined to include time limits on that clause. “We suggested that it seemed like bad policy to enshrine an ongoing right for municipalities to break the law,” says Don Mazer. “They indicated that that they will take that idea under advisement.”


From the Coalition's Facebook page citation


Environment Minister Robert Mitchell: <rjmithchell@gov.pe.ca>

Agriculture Minister J. Alan McIssac: <jamcisaac@gov.pe.ca>

Premier Wade MacLauchlan: <premier@gov.pe.ca>


Hawksley Workman, Canadian singer-songwriter, wrote the July 25th Global Chorus essay.

I believe there is hope in people riding bicycles. In song. In the gathering for good. In mindfully choosing to be compassionate. In brave voices speaking the truth. In city co-op vegetable gardens. But most days I’m not too terribly hopeful. And I wonder about hope, and if I have any right to it. And if hope isn’t locked in a feedback loop with sentimentality and entitlement. One remembers the good days past, and wishes for more of the same in the future. Is that hope? Or is it the wishing for humans to embrace their potential? I like that kind of hope. Knowing your neighbours and employing them. Supporting your community to provide for each other. Mostly I believe in compassion and kindness, and the trading of soup recipes.

Hawksley Workman

July 24, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There is a Market today:

Montague Make, Bake or Grow, 10AM-3PM, Down East Mall at former Sears store.

"We have fresh free range eggs, new potatoes, herbs, baby romaine, home made breads, pickles, jams, oils, wholefoods, honey, maple syrup, candles, iron works, hand painted cards, recycled crayons, hand sewn bags, crocheted toys, handmade jewelry, and much more from the Young Millionaires."

Facebook page


Education Forum -- A Conversation with Finland, 9AM-noon, Atlantic Technology Centre or view on-line:

Facebook event details


Today is the last day to comment to Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc about non-protection in the Marine Protection Zone by allowing oil and gas exploration in a majority of it. Details about what you can do arehere:



Despite "rigorous" inspection protocols, Small Hive Beetles have been discovered in honey bee hives in New Brunswick, presumably carried over on the importation of honeybees from Ontario. From Saturday morning:

CBC Story


Something fun:

Excerpted from the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation:

Honour the Vote Summer Postcard Challenge

It's summer on PEI! Islanders are outdoors enjoying friends and family at our amazing beaches, festivals and backyards. Politicians are out doing the social circuit, basking in their break from the Legislature. This is, perhaps, the time when they would least expect to be reminded of the unfinished business awaiting them back at the Leg - showing Islanders how they intend to Honour the Vote for Proportional Representation in last November's plebiscite.

But we haven't forgotten at all, of course! Let's make sure our MLAs know that, and have some fun while we're at it :-)

Here's the idea: This summer, let's send Island MLAs summery postcards - traditional and digital - to let them know in a light-hearted way that democracy is important to us - even with all the distractions of the summer!

More at:


There are many ideas on the website, some of which will be shared here in the coming days.


Franny Armstrong is a documentary filmmaker of The Age of Stupid, McLibel and Drowned Out, founder of 10:10. A few years ago she wrote the essay used on July 24th in the anthology Global Chorus.

History will remember us lot for one thing only. No, not Pippa Middleton’s bum, plump though it is. We will be known as the generation which did or did not keep this planet habitable for human life.

Because the people who came before us didn’t know about climate change and the ones who come after will be powerless to stop it. It’s our generation or bust. Our collective action or inaction in the coming months and years will decide the very future of life on Earth. Which makes us the very opposite of powerless people.

We are doing shamefully badly so far. Fifty-plus years since we first understood the impact of our fossil fuel orgy, we’ve not even managed to slow the rise of carbon emissions, let alone stabilize or decrease them.

Previous generations came together to solve the great problems of their time – whether ending slavery or overturning apartheid or even landing on the moon – and there is nothing intrinsically more stupid or incapable about us. We already have all the knowledge and all the technology we need to avert disaster; all that’s stopping us is ourselves.

I personally don’t dare contemplate the version where we fail to act, where my daughter Eva and all our sons and daughters have no safe place to live. Where they die horrible deaths, fighting over ever-diminishing land, water and food.

We’ve left it terrifyingly late to embrace our generation’s responsibility, but I believe we can still do it.

We have to.

— Franny Armstrong

July 23, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Sunday, July 23rd:

Downtown Farmers' Market, 11AM-4PM, lower Queen Street, Charlottetown. Farmers' Markets resume Wednesday in Charlottetown and Stanley Bridge, if you want to plan ahead.

Bonshaw Hall 150th Anniversary Tea, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall at TCH.

Monday, July 24th:

Education Forum -- A Conversation with Finland, 9AM-noon, Atlantic Technology Centre, 90 University Ave., Charlottetown. Free. Organized by District 18 MLA Brad Trivers, who is also a leadership candidate for the P.E.I. Progressive Conservatives.

from: Facebook event details

PEI needs to review top-ranked education systems in the world and adopt educational best practices. Finland is widely recognized as a world leader in education. This forum will be a video conference Q&A session with teacher and parent participants from Finland. PEI educators, parents, and the general public are invited to attend – including decision makers from the Department of Education. The event will be streamed live on Facebook and recorded for publishing to YouTube.

Tuesday, July 25th:

Breakfast Questions with Honourable David MacDonald, 8-10AM, UPEI Building on University Avenue across from Enman Crescent. Preregistration requested at <climate@upei.ca> or by calling (902) 894-2852

This week's topic is: "Who’s Speaking, Who’s Listening, Who Cares? Why is the Medium really the Message?"

More details from UPEI Communications


The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water wrote a media release about the AquaBounty decision and the subsequent meeting with Environment Minister Robert Mitchell. The CBC wrote a story about that Friday.


Genetically-modified salmon plant environmental assessment 'woefully inadequate,' says coalition - CBC News online article by Kevin Yarr

'A classic example of project splitting'

CBC News on-line, Friday, July 21st 2017

It was a faulty environmental assessment process that allowed a company in eastern P.E.I. to build a plant that will produce the first genetically-modified food animal in North America, says the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water.

AquaBounty received permission in mid-June to build an enclosed facility in Rollo Bay West that will produce 250 tonnes of genetically-modified salmon a year for food.

The company received initial approval for the plant in 2016. What was approved at the time was an egg production facility, with the eggs being shipped out of the country to be grown to market size. AquaBounty amended its proposal after receiving approval.

In June, the minister of communities, land and environment ordered amendments to the company's plan in order to address concerns raised during public consultations. Now, the company must inform government "in the event of escape or release of fish, at any stage of their life cycle" according to a letter from the Minister, addressed to AquaBounty.

The province also ordered AquaBounty to provide monthly water-quality test results for a minimum of two years.

"The environmental impact assessment for this project was woefully inadequate," said coalition member Gary Schneider, who also sits on the multi-interest advisory committee reviewing federal environmental assessment processes.

"This is a classic example of project splitting, where the company was able to get approval for a smaller piece of the project (raising eggs) and then returned a short time later with what would seem to be their actual plan, thereby avoiding an independent evaluation of a very different project."

The group also said the public consultation process was inadequate and poorly advertised.


The chair of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water is Catherine O'Brien, who both directs and stars as Marilla Cuthbert in the production of Anne and Gilbert at The Guild, which runs until mid-October. I bought tickets for a show last week and was again overwhelmed by the talent that this Island has in its theatres. The story and songs (by a team which included the witty, and devastatingly serious, Nancy White) are catchy, touching, and very funny at times, and the cast is made up of beautiful people who can dance like firecrackers, act and sing. The duets between O'Brien and Marlene Handrahan as Rachel Lynde are are particularly gorgeous and richly-textured, and those two possess great comedic timing. It's really a lovely production.

Website, with photos mostly from a previous year's cast, and related info.


Ehren Cruz is a performing arts curator, director of the Asheville, North Carolina LEAF Community Arts, will be involved producing the Mundial Montreal music festival in November of this year, and is the founder of the visionary artist community SolPurpose.

Humanity stands on the threshold of the most critical challenge we have collectively faced in the history of our story. Our world teeters on the brink of irreconcilable environmental and social crisis. Yet as the urgency rises, vital pathways of wisdom, hope and harmonious reconciliation also stand before us.

I believe our greatest chance to not only survive, but thrive, is through supporting and enhancing pathways of creative expression from a core level within our schools, homes, communities and political systems. Championing the arts allows and nurtures our deep and powerful connection to the innate creator spirit within us; it also fosters an inherent honouring and emotional bond between ourselves and the world in which we interact.

The idea that we are in any way separate from the Earth and its plants, animals and people is perhaps the greatest cancer to infiltrate the human mythos. We are and always have been vibrationally, consciously and anatomically unified with the life-force

of all things on this planet. Yet this understanding must penetrate beyond our logic and reason. What we are seeking is the re-initiation of our species into an emotional and spiritual coherency with our interdependent relationship with Earth and humanity. We are seeking the revitalization of our tribal roots, embracing both our primal origins and our advances in science and technology not as dueling forces, but as synergistic allies. In short, we have hope! In fact, I believe that humanity is finally breaking through a profoundly challenging adolescence. As we slowly dispel the seemingly countless layers of fear, inadequacy, guilt, shame and disempowerment we have accepted from others or placed upon ourselves over centuries of injustice, we are at long last emerging as environmentally conscious, socially empowered and spiritually liberated co-creators – making the necessary changes to elevate humanity into a new era of powerfully peaceful, actively creative and unified world citizens.

— Ehren Cruz

July 22, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' markets are open today in:

Bloomfield (8:30AM-noon)

Charlottetown (9AM-2PM)

Summerside (9AM-1PM)

Stanley Bridge (9AM-1PM)

Cardigan (10AM-2PM)

Murray Harbour (9AM-noon)

Also, New Glasgow, The Mill Restaurant parking lot,(8AM-1PM) Little Victory Microfarms will have a market


an excerpt from The West Prince Graphic this week about the Bloomfield Farmers' Market:


Fresh and local products found at farmers market - The West Prince Graphic article by Melissa Heald

The West Prince Graphic, Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

<snip> Now in its ninth year, Tammy Dean, who owns and operates the Bloomfield Orchard with her husband Rohan, said the market began because there was a demand in the area for local products. “We were approached by local farmers in the area who were basically wanting to sell their products at a market and they were looking around the area for space.”

That led to the orchard allowing the market to operate out of its already existing apple stand just off Route 2 near Bloomfield Corner. “Our apples are later in the season, usually the end of August until November, so we did have the availability and people were use to dropping in here for local products anyway,” explained Ms Dean.

Along with the orchard itself, both Clohossey Farms and Webb’s Vegetables have been vendors at the market since the beginning, while other vendors vary from year to year. “We were selling out by 10 O’clock when we first opened,” said Ms Dean, “It really was a great demand and a great showing of local people as well as tourist in the area.”

And since that first year, visitors to the market has been steady. Trevor Webb of Webb’s Vegetables said the farmers market is just another outlet for his business to sell their produce. “It gives us a little bit of exposure,” he said, saying his favourite part about the market is speaking with customers. Saturday, Mr Webb had available potatoes, beets, lettuce, basil plants and beans. In the future, he will have carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers for sale.

Danny Lynch from Fortune Cove was selling a variety of preserves and baked goods for his wife’s business Leila’s Angels and Crafts. The farmers market also supports the Young Millionaire Program by offering space for the young entrepreneurs to sell their products. The decision when to open the market each year is determined by when the fresh produce is available to sell, said Ms Dean. “A lot of people come for the fresh veggies.”

The decision to close the market for the season is made when the traffic to the site begins to dip. “When people are closing up their cottages and kids are back in school, we really find the numbers drop,” said Ms Dean, adding on average the market closes right after Labour Day.

Ms Dean agreed that people seem to really enjoy shopping at farmers markets. “I think they just like buying local and supporting people in their community. And everything is so fresh.”


Here is the tribute to Boyde Beck from Wednesday's Mainstreet on CBC Radio (16 minutes long), for when you have a chance, this weekend.

"Remembering Boyde Beck", CBC Radio, July 19th, 2017


Thanks to Laura Chapin for posting it on-line.


Sunday, July 23rd:

Bonshaw Hall 150th Anniversary Tea, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall (former church), right at the TCH and Green Road. The cooperative that saved and now operates the church as a performance hall and postal outlet and community hub is celebrating the 150th anniversary of a Fundraising Tea in 1867 which helped pay off the (first) mortgage then. The first hour is music and presentations in the Hall, then all are invited to the Community Centre next door for traditional refreshments from a menu like the original tea. All welcome and admission by freewill donation (to help pay off the current mortgage).


Arran Stephens is founder and CEO/gardenkeeper of Nature’s Path Foods. He writes the July 22nd Global Chorus essay.

I join my voice to the chorus of thinkers and doers, those possessed with indomitable faith and hope in the regenerative forces of nature combined with humanity’s obligation to reverse and restore what we have collectively inflicted on the Earth. It is amazing what transformations have already been wrought in the restoration and reclamation of impossibly polluted rivers, lakes, wetlands, jungles, deserts, wasteland and abandoned lots. These heroic efforts and accomplishments are almost always started by an individual, then a handful of individuals, and then a community, then a state or province, working against overwhelming odds. The acceleration of environmental degradation is galloping far ahead of such efforts; but globally, thousands of individuals and grassroots organizations are rising up to answer Nature’s tortured cries.

The solutions for global warming, drought, starvation, pollution, diminishing fossil fuelled economies, ecological disasters and wars are quite simple and available, but very difficult to put into practice. They must begin with committed and inspired individuals, heroes of the planet, one at a time, right here, right now, but growing to a global chorus.

Some of the biggest things we can do to reduce global warming and water waste are to:

1. cut back or eliminate animal protein consumption;

2. grow more local food in yards, balconies and community gardens, thus creating local food security;

3. convert wasteful and toxic chemical farming practices with biodiverse, intensive sustainable organic agriculture;

4. shift global concentration of seed control (over 90 per cent) away from monopolistic seed/chemical companies back to local seed supply;

5. move from the fossil fuel economy to harnessing the power of sun, wind, geoheat and tides; and

6. convert gas-guzzling cars and engines to electric.

Lastly, if we find peace within ourselves, only then can we effect peace in the world. By setting aside some time daily for silence, stilling the mind, focusing within – call it meditation, silent prayer, “quiet time,” or what you will – we will find at our core the solution to many conflicts, and our perspective will change. We can radiate that experience to all whom we meet, regardless of race, colour, creed or gender.

Let there be a global chorus of multi-disciplinary, sustainable approaches to the gravest challenges this Earth has ever encountered. Count me in! Let my garden grow!

— Arran Stephens

July 21, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Cardigan Farmers' Market is open today from 10AM-2PM.

Efficiency PEI has a "plug-in hybrid" car and is driving around various parts of the Island this summer, to greet Islanders and discuss energy usage. It appears to be Chevrolet Volt and has been named "Joulee". Perhaps the name is a punny cross of Joule (a unit of energy) and joli?

Monday, July 24th will have the car and staff in the Central Queens area (Hunter River, New Glasgow, North Rustico, Stanley Bridge, Kensington)

Other regions and dates are listed here:


Energy efficiency and local production are issues Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Brad Trivers is well-versed on. He is in the O'Leary area tonight at the Farmers' Banquet and tomorrow:

Saturday, July 22nd:

Meet and Greet, 10:30AM-noon, O'Leary's Tim Hortons, 1037 O'Leary Road.

Potato Blossom Parade, 1PM, Main Street

Kids' Day, 2PM, Fire Hall

Western Capitals' Rib-fest, 5-7PM, Green's Shore, 539 Water Street, Summerside.


Trivers (and likely others, details to follow) will be in Charlottetown, Monday, July 24th:

Education Forum -- A Conversation with Finland, 9AM-noon, Atlantic Technology Centre. PC Party press release:



from The Graphic newspapers this week, Allan Rankin's column:


The crowning of Island political leaders - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin

Published on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017, in The Graphic newspapers

Political coronations, where a chosen one ascends to leadership, without the divisiveness or financial costs of a contested convention, can be good or bad for a party, depending on the circumstances.

I have some personal experience with such coronations. In 1993, I was part of a small group that convinced Catherine Callbeck to seek the leadership of the Liberal Party of Prince Edward Island, and I watched her breeze through an uncontested convention that saw her crowned party leader.

At the time, the Liberals were sailing along in the polls. Unlike some political leaders who never know when to quit, the late premier Joe Ghiz retired from provincial politics still popular and highly respected by Islanders.

A successful businesswoman and former minister in the liberal government of Premier Alex B Campbell in the 1970s, Callbeck had a unique cachet, and a proven track record politically. Following an election in which the Liberals captured all but one seat, she became the first woman elected premier in Canada.

It was an historic accomplishment, and throughout her relatively short time as premier, Callbeck exhibited integrity and resolve. Her bold attack on the provincial deficit, however, put her out of favour with public sector employees, and the Liberals would pay a heavy political price in the ensuing provincial election.

Nevertheless, the coronation of Catherine Callbeck as leader of the Liberal Party was a sound strategic decision at the time, and it assured the party of a third consecutive term in government.

As the wheels began to come off the Liberal political bus in 1995, the Conservatives faced the challenge of finding a new leader. But rather than crown a chosen one, the Tories found synergy, and a legitimate leadership contest took shape.

I remember watching that Tory leadership race from the other side of the political fence. Liberals unblinded by their own partisanship knew the Conservatives were coming, and they could hear the hoofbeats.

The incumbent Conservative leader, Pat Mella, had performed extraordinarily as a single-person Official Opposition, however, the leadership candidates would be Charlottetown businessman Wes MacAleer, former MP Pat Binns, and O’Leary veterinarian Dr Gary Morgan. It proved an even-tempered, well managed contest, with the bean farmer from Hopefield coming out on top and going on to win the government in 1996, and serve three consecutive terms as premier.

I believe a coronation could have served the Conservative Party well in 1981, at the tail end of Angus MacLean’s premiership. As Islanders will recall, real estate developer Jim Lee succeeded MacLean as party leader, after defeating cabinet colleagues Fred Driscoll, Pat Binns, and Barry Clark, at a contested convention. Lee of course became premier, possibly one of the most under appreciated in recent Island political history.

But sometimes you wish history could be reshuffled like a deck of playing cards.

If the provincial Conservatives had successfully recruited rising political star at the federal level, David MacDonald, and crowned him leader, the party might have run the table for the next several elections.

Imagine the debates between the dynamic and socially progressive clergyman, MacDonald, and the young Harvard trained lawyer Joe Ghiz, about to take the political stage for the Liberals.

But then again, had MacDonald made the jump from Ottawa back to the Island, Ghiz may have stayed away from provincial politics altogether.

Moving to the present day, I believe leadership coronations still haunt and perplex the backroom strategists of our two major political parties.

Premier MacLauchlan walked into his job without a challenge from inside or outside the Liberal Caucus.

The party establishment flocked to him, viewed him as a kind of saviour, capable of breathing new life into the public affairs of the province, and ready to sweep away the scandals and misdeeds of the Robert Ghiz government.

The jury is still out halfway through a term marked by stutter step decision making, broken campaign promises, and a preponderance on command and control government.

It could be that the crowning of King Wade was a strategic mistake for the Liberals, and given the conventional three-term limit for governing parties on Prince Edward Island, MacLauchlan could very well suffer the same fate as the Callbeck-Milligan administration when the next provincial election rolls around.

The Conservatives seem to be heading for a contested leadership this time around. Their back room, as it is, would prefer to crown Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward, however Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers refuses to fall in behind Aylward, and is running his own impressive “back to basics” campaign. It would also not surprise me if a dark horse candidate emerged from the political shadows in the coming weeks.

It is both prudent and publicly responsible for the conservatives at this moment to have a genuine contest of competing political visions and personalities, so that party members and all Islanders can evaluate and judge.

Political coronations prevent that.


The fifth episode of the "Boiling the Frog" Al Franken/David Letterman five minute video discussing climate change is here:



American folksinger Margaret "Peggy" Seeger writes the July 21st Global Chorus essay:

I AM A PESSIMIST. Homo sapiens is an incredibly intelligent and monumentally stupid species. Amoebas manage their lives better than we do. Our human world is run by one gender given to aggression, competition and action without a care to consequence while the other gender overbreeds. We regard war as unavoidable human behaviour. We assume that finite natural resources can support infinite economic growth and overpopulation. Having learned little or nothing from previous failed civilizations, we continue to make the same mistakes over and over.

I AM AN OPTIMIST. I have to be or I couldn’t continue working. All over the world catalytic individuals, neighbourhood committees, communities, corporations and countries are tackling social and environmental problems. War will soon become environmentally and economically impossible to wage. The dire state of the planet will force us to stay home and live simply. We will educate women and control men. We’ve always pulled together in wartime. Let’s look on saving the world as a war to be won. We can do it.

I AM A REALIST. The pessimist believes that the world will roller-coaster into chaos, savagery and species extinction. The optimist knows that enough of us will survive and evolve to do a better job next time around and that many of the other species that we’ve left alive will still be around to help us. But at the end of the day (and the beginning of the new one) the realist says: I don’t know. Fingers crossed.

— Peggy Seeger

July 20, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This evening Market at the Farm Centre runs tonight from 4-8PM. It's a fine, cool, welcoming spot, easy parking behind the building (some choose to walk over from the grocery store nearby), with many fresh vegetable vendors, other foodstuffs, and craftspeople. There is some prepared food you can have there or take home for supper, and last week there was live music, too.


It is very sad to hear of passing of Boyde Beck, who was such an wealth of knowledge and wonderfully entertaining storyteller of Island history. CBC Mainstreet devoted yesterday's last half hour to their weekly guest; for those of you like me who weren't able to hear it, I'll pass on the link when it's available.


The fourth short video (five minutes) on climate change, with U.S. Senator Al Franken and comedian David Letterman, starts with Franken pointing out his grandson in a photo, explaining why he never wants his grandkids to think he didn't try to do anything to help the environment (and fight climate change) -- his "Poppy Moment". The two guys review some footage from Letterman's trip to India and discuss energy issues there, and spend the rest of the episode jawing in a bit of a mutual admiration society. Still funny.



"May I make a gentle suggestions. If you are not subscribing to your local newspaper, why not do so? You will help support first-rate journalism."

--Journalist Dan Rather, with his grandson Martin, during their recent trip in the U.S. to Mount Rushmore and the Crazy House monument in the Dakotas, driving through small towns, watching local news and reading local papers (and eating ice cream cones) along the way.

News article and video links; very sweet:



And more from the States, with a minute from late night talk show host Stephen Colbert's guest Andy Serkis reading a few Donald Trump tweets in his persona of Gollum from the movie series Lord of the Rings. Just silly.

from The Guardian website (the other Guardian) https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2017/jul/13/andy-serkis-transforms-into-gollum-to-read-donald-trump-tweets-video -- if my attempt at an embedded link doesn't work, the actual link is: link here


Lee Bycel is a rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Napa, California, and an adjunct professor of social justice at the University of San Francisco. He writes the July 20th Global Chorus essay. This would be a good essay to mark the sixth months since the Trump presidency began.

As long as there is life, there is hope. Often the world appears dark when one looks at the suffering caused by wars and natural disasters. Yet, somehow human beings survive with hope. Since the beginning of humanity, the world has advanced technologically, scientifically and medically. I often wonder, have we advanced humanly from the story of the first two brothers, when Cain kills Abel? Why is that we look around us and still find that every day we are killing each other? What will it take for our humanity to progress?

Einstein understood this challenge: “We can’t solve the problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” We have used the same kind of linear and redundant thinking to try and solve the great challenges facing humanity and we have not advanced much. Courageous and creative thinking and questioning might lead to constructive and sustainable solutions.

For humanity to survive, we will need to collaborate and reorient our thoughts and actions to be more about us than me; more about the future than the past, more about survival for the planet than about protecting an unsustainable lifestyle for the “haves” in the world.

In the Darfuri refugee camps of Chad, in the streets of West Oakland, in the mountains in Aspen, in the skyscrapers of Manhattan, I have met many people who deeply yearn for a more just and humane world. Understanding that yearning inside oneself is the first condition for change – which is followed by the realization that other human beings share that same profound yearning.

Hope is found each day when we ask, “How can I become more humane and human? What can I do to diminish the hurt and anguish in the world? What am I willing to risk so that all who live in the global village can flourish?”

There is hope when we shape a story where brothers and sisters can sit together in peace so that finally the Cain and Abel narrative will not shape our world. Each of us is a creator of worlds; together we are creators of a world where human beings can live in dignity and peace and where the human spirit can flourish.

— Lee Bycel

July 19, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

For the next few days, there are farmers' markets open in several locations throughout P.E.I.

Charlottetown Farmers' Market -- 9AM-2PM

Stanley Bridge -- 9AM-1PM


Here is an article from last week's Island Farmer publication:


The big get bigger again - Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Published on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

I’m one of these irritating people who has never gone into a Walmart. I know it’s self righteous crap, and how lucky I am to have had work that paid well enough that I could take this stand.

My strong feelings about this are not because I think consumers should be deprived of good value, it’s because the business model being used finds profits by ruthlessly squeezing producers, including farmers. Walmart now earns more than half its revenue from selling food, and Canada’s big food retailers Loblaws (Superstores here) and Sobeys have little choice but to try to play the same game.

Now with Amazon buying Whole Foods and getting ready to take on Walmart, Lidl, a German grocer known for low prices invading North America, Costco doing what Costco does, and so on, food retailing is starting to resemble The Game of Thrones. I worry that farmers will be like those disposable armies that end up slaughtered on the field of battle.

When I studied economics at university back in the late 1960’s (yikes) there were strong regulations called anti-trust laws to prevent companies from controlling too much market share. Canada lagged well behind the United States in “trust busting”, and we allowed banks, telecommunication companies, airlines and so on to get big in order to compete with American heavyweights.

The thing is someone was paying attention. The ability to control markets through raw economic power was considered wrong, and if too extreme, illegal. The thinking was this protected consumers by fostering more competition. I would argue it did the same for producers. Farmers on PEI talk about a time when there were a dozen buyers. Now, for most, there’s one or two.

What does this mean? Research in both Canada and the U.S. shows that while food prices have gone up by about 1000% over the last 40 years, the share that goes back to the farmer has been cut in half. It varies from commodity to commodity but it averages about 10% now. Some of that is explained by value added products that make food more convenient, bags of cleaned lettuce rather than heads for example, but the trend has been constant, and the market power of shrinking numbers of processors, brokers, and wholesalers is a main reason why. They do it because they can.

I was reminded by an article in the U.K. Guardian how this trend began. It started in the late 1970’s after Robert Bork, a failed U.S. Supreme Court nominee, wrote a book called The Antitrust Paradox. He argued that legally enforcing competition allowed inefficient companies and producers to survive. He wrote that anti-trust regulations should focus solely on “the welfare of consumers.” In other words, if consumers are getting good value because a very few dominant companies exercise their economic power, that’s just as it should be.

Court scholars acknowledge that ”consumer welfare” remains ambiguous as a legal term, but this thinking has dominated U.S. Supreme Court rulings for decades now, and tells us

why no one is blinking an eye about the recent mergers and acquisitions in the food industry, and no one will.

And don’t look to politicians to change any of this. With farmers now just 2% of the population, politicians know they’d be crazy to question a system that promises such good value.

Farming and food prices have been central to economic development since the Second World War. As Canada industrialized, government policy pushed farms to become bigger and more efficient. This freed up kids growing up on farms to become factory workers, and cheaper food gave families more spending power for industrial goods. Government programs backstopped farmers' incomes, but Canadian programs are nowhere near as generous as those in the U.S. and Europe.

More recently food prices have been discussed as social policy, especially the importance of food security for low income families. I think steps to raise incomes through a higher minimum wage, or a guaranteed annual income are better approaches to solve this than using it to justify cheap food at Walmart.

Am I picking on Walmart? Yup. Here's the thing. The Walton family, the main shareholders of Walmart, has amassed a fortune of $139 billion as of April this year not by charging consumers too much, the historical reason to worry about abusive market power, but enforcing cheaper and cheaper prices from their suppliers.

With little market clout or bargaining power, the only defense for farmers is to work together to control over production. For example that's what United Potato Growers of Canada tries to do in open markets, and supply management achieves in regulated industries.

As for me I boycott Walmart. I’m sure it’s making a big difference.


David Letterman and Senator Al Franken discuss roadside trash, climate change, and explain a carbon tax in Part 3 of their "Boiling the Frog" series (about five minutes).


By the way, here is a report of the Koch brothers (mentioned in Part 2 of the series) moving from promoting the benefits of fossil fuels to smearing renewable energy items such as electric cars.



Global Chorus for July 19th is by Yongjune Park, editor of the South Korean magazine Indigo Magazine

How are we to live in a world of injustice and pain, a world of what Susan Sontag called the “simultaneity of wildly contrasting human fates”? What are the responsibilities of those who are well to those who suffer? Life is, in part, a tragedy. Yet tragedy is the form that recognizes that if a genuine human community is to be constituted, it can only be on the basis of our shared failure, frailty and morality.

Since part of the greatness of the human being is to recreate her or his life, our shared responsibility is to question and resist the forms of domination that crush the possibility of hope. Our endeavor should go far beyond just making global connections. It is time to move on to taking action. It is inescapably important that we concern ourselves with the adversities and tribulations of the people of the world as a whole, rather than being confined only to our immediate neighbours. This is where hope begins.

To be hopeful in hard times, as one of my heroes Howard Zinn said, is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness. Hope calls for action. If you have hope, you will move, act and engage with other people. Hope is not something that we aspire to. And hope is not what you can prove or seek evidence of out there. It arises from an action. It is what we become, and it is who we are when we are engaged. Hope is, simply, an action. And even though the impossible can take a little while, we will go forth to try hard anyway.

Yongjune Park

July 18, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The second short video in a series on explaining climate change with Senator (and former comedian) Al Franken and former late night host David Letterman; this time explaining the relationship with the fossil-fuel promoting Koch brothers (who are not really named after magicians Siegfried and Roy), democracy, and what people can do (in both Canada and the United States).


A recent CBC story on P.E.I. meeting its climate change targets from the Paris Accord:

"(P.E.I. Climate Change Secretariat executive director Todd) Dupuis said any significant further reductions in emissions will have to come from changes to personal transportation and home heating, as well as the agriculture industry, which are the Island's top three sources of greenhouse gases."

Lots of room there for good policy to help Islanders made those changes.


Ann Henderson-Sellers is an emeritus professor at Macquarie University in Australia. She writes the July 18th Global Chorus essay.

Should we hope? Yes! We’re a resourceful species living on an amazingly hospitable planet. Have we screwed up? Yes, but like all recovering addicts, we recognize that our fossil energy “hits” and hedonistic consumerism cannot deliver our preferred future. Should we worry? Yes, because we are cleverly exploiting a finitely hospitable planet.

Over the last forty years I have written hundreds of papers and loads of books on climate and our future. I thought I had nothing more to learn about people’s capability to stop global warming. I was wrong. Glimmers of hope are emerging.

Please complete “what next?”:

The Earth’s climate is changing,

And we know we’re primarily responsible,

As this truth is deeply uncomfortable –

We (choose one):

1. allow, even encourage, our mass media to distract us with pseudo debate;

2. blame scientists for failing to clearly explain;

3. change behaviour and set to clean the mess up.

We’ve wasted time on 1 and 2, so the challenge today is to mobilize action that turns our global feeling of responsibility into empowerment for change.

My solution is sharing a smile en route to Earth’s better future. If, you are worried about change, a chuckle helps you live differently. For a hopeful grin try:

writing a climate change limerick, e.g., www.climatemodellingprimer.net/ClimateChangeVerses

shooting a “low carb” movie short, e.g., greenscreen.herokuapp.com


Start now, have fun and help others change. Add a chorus line:

“The best solutions share a smile!”

Ann Henderson-Sellers

July 17, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

When a bucket of water on part of a wooden chicken coop was lifted, a whole mess of earwigs was surprised (as was I) and scurried away. That's about the image I got reading the e-mails Georgetown-St. Peter's MLA Steven Myers has been sharing on the between members of the Public Schools appointed Board and government. (I have only seen the e-mails on Myers' Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/steven.myers.pei

(Janet Payne from Kinkora, who has been advocating for local schools, likened it to the detritus on the beach when the tide has gone out.)

CBC Story

Paul MacNeill addresses this situation and the discovery of these actions in his editorial in The Graphic newspapers last week:


Last line of defense for accountability - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

by Paul MacNeill, published on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017, in The Graphic newspapers

It is often the last line of defense for media and citizens hoping to break through the haze of government spin. Freedom of Information legislation is vital in ensuring our democracy works. This week we have examples of its importance on both the federal and provincial side.

Provincially PC MLA Steven Myers obtained a treasure trove of 27 Department of Education/Public Schools Branch email strings written during the height of the school closure process. Publicly the MacLauchlan government refused to intervene in what was clearly a poisonous and broken process citing the need to let the process work. What the emails show, however, is that government was being given a heads up from the Public Schools Branch on the direction potential recommendations could take.

No one should be surprised that politics was alive and kicking behind the scenes. We’ve known for almost a decade that the Liberal administration will manipulate the education system for maximum benefit. After the former elected Eastern School Board voted in a way that upset the Ghiz administration, Superintendent (and soon to be deputy minister) Sandy MacDonald wrote an email to Minister Doug Currie and the Premier’s Chief of Staff Chris LeClair proclaiming he had failed to control the board.

Most troubling about the current crop of emails is they put to rest any notion that the Public Schools Branch is an independent body. It is not. It is a pawn of government. Some emails were cc’d to the premier’s communications director or another senior advisor. Emails were sent by Deputy Minister Susan Willis offering input into reports and strategy suggestions.

And it is here where the education system structure gets very fuzzy. When Susan Willis adds opinion or requests a meeting it is never clear what role she is filling. Was she acting as the deputy minister? Was she acting as the chairperson of the Public Schools Branch Board of Directors? Was she acting as a member of the premier’s learning council? We don’t know. But we do know that the organizational structure crafted by Premier MacLauchlan creates a conflict of interest that exists to this day. In the process it needlessly allows Willis’ reputation to be tarnished.

The failure to truly reform the education system is one of the major issues pulling down the popularity of the government. Islanders, with justification, do not trust the current structure or the people put in charge to act in the best interest of education. It must be changed.

On the federal side, Prime Minister Trudeau made a very high profile trip to New York in March to watch Come From Away, the great Canadian musical that tells the story of how Newfoundlanders responded in the hours and days after 9/11. (We won’t talk about how Come From Away’s success shames Confederation Centre and the visionless administration that believe successful Canadian main stage theatre is limited to Anne).

While I rarely dip into federal issues, I submitted a federal request to see how much the trip actually cost. In short, tens of thousands of dollars for nothing more than a prime ministerial photo op.

First, there is the travel cost for the PM, his wife and a bevy of hangers on. That taps in at $29,977 which includes $18,298 for a private government plane and $10,514 for accommodation.

Then there are the free tickets taxpayers were kind enough to provide. We don’t know who the lucky folks are who received one of the 284 tickets, but we do know the total bill was $22,436 US, or roughly $30,000 Canadian.

It can be argued that the trip is a valid investment given the importance of US/Canadian relations, the pivotal role we played on 9/11 and the fact that a Canadian musical is lighting up Broadway. But it is important that there is full transparency.

Because of FOIPP we know the cost of the trip. And because of our provincial legislation, which is weak, we know a little bit more of the backroom manipulations of the education bureaucracy. In short the act offers the public access that we would not have without it.

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at paul@peicanada.com


Former comedy writer and now Democratic Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken -- and a tiny bit of David Letterman (with the promise of more) -- puts climate change denial into another perspective in this first of a series of videos on this broader topic. I'll send the link for each one each day this week. Franken asks that if you find the videos useful, to share them, too.



Sy Safransky is editor and publisher of The Sun magazine (such a unique publication!) and wrote the July 17th Global Chorus essay:

I wonder whether we’ll soon have just two seasons: Hot and Very Hot. Or Hot, Very Hot and You’ve Got To Be Kidding. Still, didn’t I vow to stop gnashing my teeth about global warming? If I knew this was my last day on Earth, would I spend time condemning my brothers and sisters for the mistakes we’ve made, or deriding myself for being just another greedy American who uses a disproportionate share of the world’s resources? Maybe there was once a golden age in which humans lived in energy-efficient harmony, women doing half the hunting and men half the gathering, the sex always sacred, no carbon footprint because we flew only in our dreams. But I have no idea how to get back to the garden.

So let’s show a little compassion for our not-so-evolved species. The Industrial Revolution didn’t begin until the 18th century; is it any surprise it’s taking us a while to clean up the mess? How long does it take any of us to learn from our bad decisions and failed relationships and lousy habits we can’t seem to break? Yes, the planet is getting hotter. But even if we were crowded together on a slow boat to hell, wouldn’t we want to extend some mercy to our fellow passengers?

During the height of the Cold War, I asked the spiritual teacher Ram Dass whether the world was facing a nuclear Armageddon or, as some were prophesying, a “new age” of peace and love and deeper awareness. Ram Dass said, “I used to think I should have an opinion on this, but as I examined it, I saw that if it’s going to be Armageddon and we’re going to die, the best thing to do to prepare for it is to quiet my mind, open my heart and deal with the suffering in front of me. And if it’s going to be the new age, the best thing to do is to quiet my mind, open my heart and deal with the suffering in front of me.” Is the moral calculus any different today?

— Sy Safransky

July 16, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today is the last day of PEI Fest, with the films Serenade for Haiti and Spotlight playing this morning and afternoon. Website program page.

Downtown Farmers' Market from 11AM-4PM, lower Queen Street.

Organized Fresh vegetable markets resume Wednesday, so pop downtown if you want to enjoy the day and buy direct from farmers.


The Global Chorus essay author meshes with life on our island:

Wallace J. Nichols, PhD, is a marine biologist, "entrepreneurial scientist", nature/humans relations explorer and author of Blue Mind.

His website:


He is promoting #100DaysofBlue, encouraging people to connect with water in some capacity each of 100 days (in the United States conveniently countable between their Memorial Day and Labour Day).

from his website:

Spending time around water is a summer tradition and one that has entertained people from all walks of life. Its impact on our lives is immeasurable and the many ways we intersect with water are countless.

Designed to shape the new story of water, ‘100 Days of Blue’ asks people to get in, on, near or under water daily for 100 days and to share their experiences through their own personal networks and a vast array of social media platforms.

This simple, optimistic gesture of expressing love for our blue planet demonstrates the vital role it plays in our health and wellbeing and helps us tell the new story of water each year throughout all 100 days of summer.


The idea is simple. Beginning on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day, the unofficial bookends of summer in the U.S., share an image, thought, video or reflection about your water using the #100DaysofBlue hashtag.

More at:


To see others' postings and post your own, as we surrounded by and just a bit above sources of beautiful, but vulnerable water:



From the essay by "J." Nichols for today from Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, edited by Todd E. MacLean, and with a nod to the right whale and their supporters:

Fifteen years ago the hawksbill turtle in my hands would’ve been hog-tied, slaughtered and carved into trinkets. Today, it swam free.

On Baja’s Pacific coast, an adult male turtle swam into a fisherman’s net. In the past, for the fisherman anyway, such a thing would’ve been considered a stroke of good luck. Endless black market demand for turtle meat, eggs, skin and shell can provide a nice payday to anyone willing to endure the low-level risk of being caught.

Hawksbill turtles, once common, are now the rarest of the rare due to decades of hunting for their beautiful shells, which get carved into jewelry and other adornments. But these days, GrupoTortuguero. org, a Mexican grassroots conservation movement, is challenging the old ways and shaking things up. A network of thousands of fishermen, women and children count themselves among its ranks.

Noe de la Toba, the fisherman who caught this turtle, contacted Aaron Esliman, Grupo Tortuguero’s director. Esliman dispatched messages to network members throughout the region, who responded immediately. The turtle was swiftly moved to the nearby office of Vigilantes de Bahia Magdalena. A team led by Julio Solis, a former turtle hunter himself, took care of the turtle, checking for injuries. The turtle was measured, weighted, IDtagged and quickly returned to the ocean. Images and details were shared immediately on Facebook and Twitter, on websites and over beers.

The fishermen involved weren’t paid. They just did it. It wasn’t anyone’s “job,” but everyone’s responsibility. They weren’t motivated by fear or money, but dignity and camaraderie. People like them are rescuing animals every day. Millions of sea turtles are saved each year and the populations in Baja’s ocean are rising – one turtle rescue at a time. Twenty years ago, experts wrote off Baja’s turtle hopes. The population was too small and pressures on them too great, the thinking went. Yet, the survival of this one turtle tells a very different story. If the survival of endangered species is just a battle of the budgets, we will all lose. But if it’s a matter of will, commitment and love, I’ll put my bet on the turtles to win.

— Wallace J. Nichols

July 15, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmer' Markets (that I know of that are) open today -- a great day to see what fresh vegetables and such you can get from a local producer.

Charlottetown (9AM-2PM)

Summerside (9AM-1PM)

Stanley Bridge (9AM-1PM)

Cardigan (10AM-2PM)

Murray Harbour (9AM-noon) -- it's "Christmas in July" Day


In addition to PEI Fest events taking place today, there are of course many other happenings, including an opportunity to walk through Macphail Woods:

Forest Restoration Workshop, 2-4PM, Macphail Woods, Orwell Corner.

"Restoration workshop offers alternatives to clear-cuts and plantations, and other ideas on how to improve the health of Island forests. It starts with a presentation in the Nature Centre and then participants will walk the trails and discuss ways to improve different types of woodlands.<snip>"

More information:



The federal government is asking Canada's for your opinion on "A Food Policy for Canada". Seeing how public consultations have been attractively solicited, and then completely disregarded, ignored, or twisted to suit predetermined outcomes makes many of us think twice about the whole exercise.

Kevin Arsenault, of Eastside Organics (at the Sunday Downtown Market and the Thursday Farm Centre Market) blogged last month about this survey:


Link to "A Food Policy for Canada" survey.

Online consultation closes Thursday, July 27th.


Bill Logan writes Global Chorus essay for today. He is the founder of Urban Arborists, which promotes and cares for trees in the New York City area, and consults extensively.

We need spirit, worship, wonder, mystery. These are not meaningless words. Spirit is the truth we find in action. To worship is to value deeply. Wonder is the loving confession of our ignorance. Mystery, as Gabriel Marcel wrote, is not what is beyond us, but what encompasses us. When we are not above the world, but entirely and inextricably in it, we will be less liable to spoil it with our leavings. When I asked the composter Clark Gregory once, if there were not simply a few things that had to be thrown away, he answered, “There’s no such place as away.”

It seems somehow paradoxical that we should come back to the spirit by plunging deep into the world of matter, but that’s the way it is. We have no shortage of thoughts or of feelings. What most of us lack is a first-hand life, where our hands engage the world, discover its difficulties and craft a way through. Feeling may motivate and thought may order, but the work of our hands is the source of revelation. Hope comes to me when I see a person digging in the dirt, taking a walk, planing a board. The wider our experience, the more human we become, and the better able we will be to judge a sane way ahead.

— Bill Logan

July 14, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Cardigan Farmers' Market is open today from 10AM to 2PM, at the old train station.


Documentary: Bluefin, part of the PEI Fest, 9PM

Facebook event link


Another movie tomorrow where tickets might still be available:

Documentary: A Better Man, 2PM, Florence Simmons Performance Hall

"Illuminating a unique paradigm for domestic-violence prevention, A Better Man offers a fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone involved when men take responsibility for their abuse. It also empowers audience members to play new roles in challenging domestic violence, whether it’s in their own relationships or as part of a broader movement for social change."

Event details and ticket link


Some pretty severe disappointment in both the federal and provincial government about responsibilities that they do not seem to be taking seriously (besides climate change, federally; provincially, approval of genetically modified fish rearing without meaningful public consultation):

Federally, the Fisheries Minister has a Marine Protected Area, but he's going to allow oil and gas development in most of it.



EDITORIAL: Gulf habitats under attack - The Guardian Editorial

Main editorial, Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Instead of taking measures to protect endangered whales and other fragile marine life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, our so-called environment friendly federal government is heading in the opposite direction.

In recent weeks, scientists and environmentalists were sent reeling by the deaths of seven right whales in the Gulf. Several others entangled in fishing gear were cut free - one with tragic consequences this week when a fisherman died after being struck by a floundering whale.

Necropsies conducted on a P.E.I. beach indicated at least two whales died from blunt trauma, most likely caused by impact from ships. Others were caught in a lethal grip from fishing gear.

It would seem logical that immediate steps are needed to protect this majestic species. The right whale population has dropped to approximately 525 and the deaths of these mammals are devastating.

Ottawa had announced plans to increase Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along our coasts and seashores - by five per cent this year, and enlarging that to 10 per cent by 2020.

The process for designating the Laurentian Channel as an MPA is working its way through the parliamentary system. Yet, in recent days, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced that 80 per cent of that new, so-called MPA would be open to oil and gas development.

Pressure is obviously coming from politicians and oil and gas lobbyists to open up the Gulf for drilling with the promise of more jobs and hefty royalties.

The channel is a main entry to the Gulf from the Cabot Strait and Atlantic Ocean. It’s a key feeding and migratory pathway for whales, endangered leatherback turtles and is one of the only known mating grounds for endangered porbeagle sharks.

The Gulf appears to be an emerging habitat for right whales, and scientists must figure out where they are and what can be done to protect them.

There must be consultation and co-operation with fishermen and shippers to come up with ways to protect the animals by rerouting shipping lanes, alerting fishermen to the whales' presence and setting speed limits for vessels. Drilling increases the odds for more whale deaths.

Earlier this year, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board issued a new four-year, 52,000-hectare exploration licence for the sensitive Old Harry shelf in the Gulf. It gives the company more preparation time before starting exploration work this fall in the area between the Iles de la Madeleine and N.L.

Fishermen, environmentalists and First Nations oppose the exploration work and any future drilling. Their concerns are justified because a potential spill would have a devastating impact on lucrative lobster, groundfish, tuna, crab and shrimp industries. It would be a tourism disaster if Maritime beaches were defiled.

There is still time to change Minister LeBlanc’s mind. We don't want to see any more whales towed to P.E.I. beaches so scientists can confirm our worst fears - that man once again is destroying our planet one species at a time.

Minister LeBlanc must be made to see the folly of his actions.


There are many on-line petitions, but you can also send a quick e-mail directly:

Minister Dominic LeBlanc <dominic.leblanc@parl.gc.ca>

Prime Minister Trudeau <justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca>

and to find your P.E.I. MPs' contact info:


<firstname.lastname@parl.gc.ca> is the template


Tzeporah Berman speaks about fossil fuel development, and is the author of This Crazy Time, and wrote this day's Global Chorus entry. Wikipedia biography.

“What I wanted to ask you is … Do you really think we have a chance?” She looks about eighteen. Clearly moved by the speech I have just given on the impacts of climate change, tears brim in her shining eyes as she gathers her courage to ask a question that is so … raw. Without allowing my head to take over, I answer from the heart, “I do. But only if we can get out of our way. Only if we allow ourselves to listen to our instincts, to be guided by our values and not short-term politics or economic interests. Only if we all engage. Daily.”

“I will,” she whispers, her relief palpable. “Thank you.” On the way home that night I ask myself if I truly believe my own answer or whether I was simply finding an answer that I knew would put out the flames of fear in that young girl’s eyes. I am relieved to find when I dig deep that I not only truly believe that we are capable of systemic change to ensure a safer, cleaner and more just world but that I feel it already happening almost like a humming beneath my feet.

There is no question that we are currently living in a dangerously unsustainable world as a result of dumping 30 billion tons of pollution into the atmosphere annually from the use of oil and coal. We are truly living the global tipping point moment. However, a cleaner and safer world powered by renewable energy – the sun and the wind – is no longer a pipe dream of some west coast hippies: for the past two years, new investment in renewable energy electricity generation has exceeded that in oil, coal and nuclear combined.

Sometimes it seems impossible. Too big. But at these times, we need to remember that technology, communications and transport entirely changed in our grandparents’ lifetimes and will again in ours. And in that young girl’s lifetime, we will re-envision the world toward a post-carbon industrial society. How quick and how difficult the transition will be will depend on how much we engage, and our willingness to act with our heads and our hearts.

— Tzeporah Berman

July 13, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Farm Centre Farmers' Market is open today from 4-8PM, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown.


PEI Fest has much going on to discuss the state of the Earth, globally, community-level and interpersonal level. Bluefin is Friday night, and Chasing Coral is Saturday, both obviously exploring environmental issues.


Facebook page


This hard-hitting article has been getting a lot of press. Bradley Walters at Mount Allison University sent the link along with the next link, a piece from Slate that puts it into another perspective; they are followed by Chris Hedges' Global Chorus essay.

The Uninhabitable Earth - New York magazine article by David Wallace-Wells

Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think

by David Wallace-Wells


Alarmism Is the Argument We Need to Fight Climate Change - Slate article by Susan Matthews

New York magazine’s global-warming horror story isn’t too scary. It’s not scary enough.

by Susan Matthews



Chris Hedges writes prolifically, is a professor at Princeton and a Presbyterian minister. He writes the July 13th Global Chorus essay. Wikipedia biography of Chris Hedges.

Clive Hamilton in Requiem for a Species describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.” This obliteration of “false hopes,” as he describes it, requires an intellectual and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means those we love, including our children, are doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire. To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite is incapable of responding rationally to the destruction of the ecosystem, is as difficult to face as our own mortality. It means a future bereft of options. It obliterates the dreams we have for our children. It forces us to accept that no matter what we do we cannot finally protect our sons and daughters. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth – intellectually and emotionally – and yet continue to resist.

The human species, led by white Europeans and Euro-Americans, has been on a 500-year worldwide rampage of plundering, looting, enslaving, killing, subjugating, conquering, exploiting, polluting and destroying the Earth – as well as indigenous communities that got in their way. But the game is up. The technical and scientific forces that created a life of luxury (as well as unrivalled military and economic power) for these elites are the forces that doom us. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation has become a curse, a death sentence. But even as it collapses, as we endure the hottest year on record, there is no way to shut down the self-destructive engine of global capitalism.

Complex civilizations throughout history have had a bad habit of destroying themselves. The difference is that when we go down this time, the whole planet will go with us. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new civilizations to conquer, no new peoples to subjugate. The 500-year struggle between the human species and the Earth will conclude by teaching us a painful lesson about unrestrained greed and hubris.

— Chris Hedges

July 12, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open in Stanley Bridge (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM). There is excellent food at the markets, including seafood.


Two groups of people met at various times with Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell yesterday to express concerns about the decision to approve the expansion of the AquaBounty plant in Fortune/Rollo Bay which will produce genetically modified salmon for human consumption. One group including me from the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water also wanted to get an update on the Water Act (public feedback from the last round of consultation is being incorporated into it for tabling this Fall in the P.E.I. Legislature) and discuss very soft spots in the provincial environmental impact assessment process. (And the department does want to improve public interaction with that process.)

Another meeting was with representatives of the Council of Canadians, EarthAction and the Mackillop Centre for Social Justice.

The Minister was quite pleased about the reduced water usage in the expanded AquaBounty proposal. Great, really good. Let's set that small positive step aside and consider the rest: The huge issue of allowing GM-animal production is a decision with such ethical implications that it was a mistake for the government --- this is a shared responsibility among departments and the Premier, no hiding in silos -- to allow this to go forward without actual public consultation, not a short comment period after a skimpily advertised meeting in Eastern Kings County one weeknight.

This is not a simple binary question, or one that needs to have a "balance" of business or environment. Were is the conscience of this government?



LETTER: What are GMOs really about? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on July 11, 2017

GMOs are sold to the public as being required to somehow increase food production for a starving world. This is the corporate line.

But what the GMO “industry” is really about is corporate control of the world’s food supply. It works like this. You somehow improve some plant or animal by genetically creating a new species that didn’t exist before.

And now the corporation owns this new species because they created it and patented it. Wow.

If they find out that somehow you have their genetics in your possession, you’ve stolen it and they can sue you.

The only problem is once these mutated species get out into nature there’s no way to control where they go. So in Mexico strains of heritage corn that have been grown for centuries now test positive for Monsanto’s genetics. This is in corn that was over 1,000 miles from U.S. commercial GMO corn crops.

Because the genetics are owned by Monsanto they can now sue you.

And in case you think that this is some abstract concept, one of Monsanto’s biggest activities is suing farmers for stealing their genetics - even if Monsanto’s genetics somehow made it into your corn without your permission.

So you either pay Monsanto for their genetics or a giant corporation will take you to court.

What’s this got to do with the beautiful province of P.E.I.? You’ve got GMO salmon being produced here. Where do you think this is going?

Allan Finney,

Weyburn, Sask.


Global Chorus is by Les Stroud, survival expert, musician, creator host of Survivorman. His website is here.

If we live with Armageddon as our compass bearing then Armageddon is what we will find. If we envision a world with flourishing ecosystems and cultural diversity, then we shall have these. I have travelled to the remote corners of the Earth and found plastic in the water, but I have flown over jungles and found undiscovered species of wildlife. So I have hope.

What will it take to reach the tipping point back into a healthy planet, before it’s too late? One person. It starts with one person making a change and seeking to live in harmony with the planet. The energy of one person is enough to change the entire world. But it would be too little too late. Now each individual person must work with others until the combined energy overrides the destruction and downward spiraling path the health of the planet has taken. Each environmental organization must combine efforts. United, we can alter and ultimately reverse, the looming destruction of our planet. Divided we fall.

The revolution that will come from today’s children, will be an environmental one. The change must come NOW so that they don’t have to revolt.

“Think globally, act locally” is still the answer. I no longer keep a garbage receptacle. There is a place for everything I discard, from soiled wrappers to busted bikes. Garbage should be illegal. We have the technology. Close off your garbage container for one month and see how it all becomes possible. Create the universe our own species needs to flourish in; one with the health of all the other species in tact. One with cultural diversity. Volunteering won’t cut it. Laws need to be made. What someone does in Siberia will affect someone else in Chile. What someone does in Malaysia affects someone in Wyoming. God is not going to sweep down from the sky and clean up the oceans, bring back the whales and freshen the air. We continue to create our own universe. What are you creating?

— Les Stroud

July 11, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Tuesday, July 11:

Summer breakfast seminar, 8AM, UPEI off-campus Building, 618 University Ave. Honourable David MacDonald hosts Is Politics the Art of the Deal? What is indispensable about Politics in our Global Village?

Sounds like they can deal with some number of walk-ins, if you wanted to go and didn't pre-register.

Exploring the Medicine Wheel with Eliza Knockwood, 1-4PM, Rock Barra Artist Retreat. Free. From the event details:Exploring the medicine wheel helps us to name and meet the transitions and changes that we face. In this workshop, we explore the four directions - the seasons of our life cycle, representing birth and infancy (Spring), childhood and early adolescence (Summer), adolescence and early adulthood (Fall), full adulthood (Winter) and elderhood (Spring again), and so the cycle repeats. Eliza Starchild Knockwood is a Mi’kmaq mother and filmmaker from Abegweit First Nation in Prince Edward Island.

Facebook event details


Cornwall Bypass Phase IIB Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process update:

Well, technically, the public has --had-- ten calendar days to respond to the EIA publiciation after the public meeting is held. Neither of these dates appears on the website, a massive oversight if public participation is actually part of this process.

Anyway, the EIA officer said they would take comments for a couple more days. He sends any concerns to the environmental consulting firm (Stantec), which answers the questions (and which should be published), and then the EIA officer and such make their recommendation to the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment.

So, even if you haven't read all 243 pages of the EIA (and I have not), you can still comment -- but as soon as possible. Comment on the 100 acres of farmland this project eats up -- without any need to rehabilitate other land. And forest land. Comment on the sheer size and cost, the overpasses and other concrete structures, and comment on the size of our population and of its misplaced priorities. The last comments are not really considered in the way the EIA is set up -- but that and all the weaknesses of the EIA should be commented on, too! It's one of the few ways to push for a stronger EIA process.

EIA website on bypass

comments to <dethompson@gov.pe.ca>


Speaking of environmental impact assessments, The Guardian last week featured an article interviewing Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party on P.E.I., regarding his concerns about how the EIA was done for the AquaBounty expansion project.

Regulatory acrobatics helps GM fish facility, P.E.I. Greens accuse - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Peter Bevan-Baker adds his concern about GM salmon facility on P.E.I.

Published on Friday, July 7th, 2017

Last month, the provincial government approved an application by AquaBounty Canada Inc. to expand its current facility in Rollo Bay by building two 40,000-square foot structures where the company will rear AquaAdvantage salmon, a sterile genetically modified salmon, from eyed egg to market size.

Many were surprised by the application, as the company originally said its plans would only involve producing the salmon eggs in P.E.I. and then shipping them to Panama to grow to full size. They were to be processed into fillets in Panama and then sent back to Canada for sale.

Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker says the fact this change in plans did not require a whole new environmental assessment is a case of “regulatory acrobatics.”

“There’s lots of levels in which this is problematic for me, but I think first and foremost it’s the regulatory dance that’s being played here. It just doesn’t sit well with me and, instinctively, I don’t feel good about that,” he said.

Bevan-Baker says he is also concerned about the amount of taxpayer money that has been handed to the company.

The province recently provided AquaBounty with a $14,000 grant for its grow-out facility.

A spokesman for the economic development department said the money was to assist the company with the requirements of its environmental assessment.

“It is not uncommon for IPEI (Innovation P.E.I.) to provide grant assistance to companies working their way through expansion projects of this nature,” the spokesman wrote in an email to The Guardian.

Since 2002, the province has provided $818,000 in non-repayable support to AquaBounty, including grants and labour incentives.

In July 2016, Island Investment Development Inc. (IIDI) also approved a provincial loan to the company of $717,000.

AquaBounty has also received money from the federal government.

In 2010, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) provided AquaBounty Canada Inc. and Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc. with a conditionally repayable contribution of $2.87 million. ACOA also gave the company an unconditionally repayable contribution of $337,000 in April 2016 to develop its hatchery.

Bevan-Baker says he believes the company is large enough to fund its own operations.

“The fact that government is willing to give so much taxpayers’ dollars to something which, and I think I speak for a lot of Islanders when I say, I have instinctive concerns about, is troubling,” Bevan-Baker said.

“The money behind this organization is considerable. And it’s my personal opinion that they should be able to fund all R&D (research and development) and all applications for whatever regulatory hoops that they have to jump through without any public funds being put in there.”

He says he has heard from a number of nearby residents who have concerns about the facility, notably about the pre-existing deep-water wells the company acquired when it purchased the property in Rollo Bay.

“I think it’s problematic that we’re actually in the process of writing the first Water Act for our province and something as important as this went through. I don’t think that was the right thing to do.”

Environmental advocacy groups from across Canada were in P.E.I. last week and called on Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to halt the development of the AquaBounty facility until more study and consultation has been held on the environmental and ethical concerns involved in growing genetically modified animals.


Today's Global Chorus essay is by Hannah Quimby, director of Quimby Family Foundation.

Scribbled on a piece of paper, stored in a box of old sentimental items, is a letter from my high school friend. It starts with, “Belief is the foundation. Since the beginning of time, people have given meaning to life through belief.” I love this simple statement written from one 17-year-old to another. I love it because 16 years later the message is still relevant and fundamental to how I want to work in the world. Maintaining a solid belief that, collectively and individually, we can create positive change in our communities and can slowly restore our environment helps keep us going despite what we may witness to the contrary.

There are certainly times when I have doubt that our efforts will make a difference and when it’s impossible not to worry about the future of humanity and our environmental and social crises. Doubt arises when I have shifted my focus to the solemn realities that surround us which can seem impossible to overcome. As I write this, the UN has stated that in four days the world’s population will reach seven billion people. Experts are questioning how our planet will withstand the waste and impact of this number of people. We do not know for certain what the Earth and its inhabitants will be able to handle. What we do know is that the current rates of human growth and resource consumption are trending towards collapse.

Fortunately, current movements like Occupy Wall Street show a common belief that working together will create change. When our family created a grant-making foundation, we chose to work fro m this place of hope. We took the stance that our efforts would have a positive impact. With each grant, we believe in the work being done by committed non-profit leaders. We see positive community change, the creation of green space for young people to fall in love with the outdoors, and continued protection of our natural environment. Belief that we can collaboratively and strategically work towards a better future is what we can hold on to and the actions and outcomes from that belief give meaning to our lives.

— Hannah Quimby

July 10, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Tide Talk, with author Jonathan White, 5PM, Confederation Centre of the Arts. "...a thought-provoking presentation led by Johnathan White, who will discuss various topics from his book Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean." More info:




Tuesday, July 11:

Summer breakfast seminar with the Honourable David MacDonald, 8AM, UPEI Building at 618 University Ave. The topic of the second of this series is:

Is Politics the Art of the Deal? What is indispensable about Politics in our Global Village?

Pre-registration is requested at <climate@upei.ca> or call (902) 894-2852


Some Monday political discourse:

First, Allan Rankin's observations in his column in The Graphic newspapers:


One stop political shopping, the same Charlottetown law firm at the helm of both major PEI political parties - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin

Published on Wednesday, July 5th, 2017, in The Graphic newspapers

The Island Conservative Party recently elected Margaret Ann Walsh as its new interim president.

Walsh is a junior lawyer with the Charlottetown firm Stewart McKelvey, and the scion of an old Conservative family. Her father, Leo Walsh, was part of the Angus MacLean rural renaissance in the early 1980s, served as a Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs for Pat Binns, and held other prominent positions, including regional head of ACOA. Like they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Margaret Ann Walsh grew up in a family steeped in politics.

That is a good thing, and from what I have seen from her involvement as a spokesperson during the past provincial election, the daughter is exceptionally smart, knows the Island well and possesses organizational skill. I am not even troubled that she is a lawyer, politics and law deeply intertwined, and the legal profession essential to how government is structured, regulated, and controlled.

What does trouble me, however, is that Margaret Ann Walsh is part of the Stewart McKelvey law firm, and just down the hall in the same law firm, the president of the Island Liberal Party, Scott Barry, hangs his professional hat. That’s right, the presidents of both major political parties work for the same law firm, blending their partisan responsibilities with the firm’s collective goal of attracting clients and making money.

As already stated, there is a legitimate and necessary connection between law and politics and the administration of government, but that relationship also produces great financial benefits for the lawyer, through securing ongoing legal work from government departments, representing government in court actions, and acting on behalf of businesses and organizations dealing with government at various levels.

A successful Island law firm will maintain connections with both major political parties by financially contributing to both parties, and by ensuring someone in the firm has influence within the two party leaderships. This means regardless of which party forms the government, lucrative files can be retained, and simply moved from one office to another, and the gravy train can keep on rolling.

It’s not the first time the Charlottetown firm of Stewart McKelvey has harboured the presidents of both the Liberal and Conservative Parties, or exercised inordinate influence over the political affairs of the province. The alumni of the firm, in its various iterations over the years, includes several party executives, as well as former and present politicians.

For instance, when lawyer Joe Ghiz became Liberal premier in 1986, founding partner of the firm Alan Scales, a close friend of Ghiz, was the gris eminence of the rival Conservative Party. Since then, Murray Murphy, Geoff Connolly, and Jim Travers, all Stewart McKelvey lawyers, have served as senior officers of the Conservative Party of Prince Edward Island at one time or another, along with Keith Boswell, who is a judge of the federal court.

Now joining those ranks is Margaret Ann Walsh.

On the Liberal side of the political fence, the party executive involvement is no less impressive. Former senior partner Gordon Campbell, now Acting Chief Justice of the PEI Supreme Court, was once president of the Liberals, as was the current MP for Charlottetown, Sean Casey. Other former Liberal Party executive members have included the late Brendan Curley, Spencer Campbell, Scott MacKenzie and of course Scott Barry. Moreover, it’s just a matter of time I believe before the firm’s current rising star, Jonathan Coady, ascends to a position of party executive authority.

He will have to choose blue or red.

The important point to be made here, is that when it comes to Stewart McKelvey as a law firm, there is only one side of the fence, and partisan politics is played out as a zero-sum game, with party allegiances kept for one purpose, to harness and maintain government business and influence within the firm.

In my opinion, such control and influence by a single Charlottetown law firm is not at all in the democratic interests of Prince Edward Islanders. It creates a professional oligarchy that can exercise inordinate power, secretively and without accountability.

Of course, there are other law firms in Charlottetown similarly plugged into party politics. The firm of Carr, Stevenson and MacKay has particular sway with the present MacLauchlan government. Gordon MacKay has known MacLauchlan since high school days, and served on the UPEI Board of Governors during MacLauchlan’s tenure as president. Barb Stevenson, partner in the same firm, has been a prominent member of the Liberal Party for years, and both she and MacKay encouraged our premier to enter politics. Yet another partner in the firm, Bill Dow, has been chosen by MacLauchlan as the new Liberal fundraising chairperson.

But in the high stakes world of law and government, the spotlight now is very much on Stewart McKelvey, with Scott Barry and Margaret Ann Walsh holding the keys to future patronage, regardless of which political party wins the next election.

Soon the Island Conservatives will choose their new leader.

That person will find it hard to retain any semblance of independence, and avoid being controlled and led around by the lawyers and other members of the Charlottetown oligarchy. They should go back to basics, to borrow the campaign slogan of Brad Trivers, and look for inspiration in the blueberry farmer from Lewes, J Angus MacLean.

Nobody owned him.

In the meantime, if you are seeking to influence government policy, or need a major political favour, visit the offices of Stewart McKelvey on Kent Street and ask for either Margaret Ann or Scott.

It’s a kind of one-stop political shopping.



Old Political Ruts - THE VIEW FROM THIS BRANCH post by David Weale

Published on Sunday, July 9th, 2017, on social media

Because we moved to the Island when I was a small child my family-life was missing something that was central to the experience of most other families across the Island, and that was the tradition of generational loyalty to either the Conservative or Liberal parties. To this day I have no idea which, if either, of those parties would have been favoured by my parents.

Also, there was also absolutely no sense in our household that our wellbeing had anything to do with political loyalty. It meant, of course, that we missed out on the election excitement and drama, and the collective orgasm of being a member of the winning party on election day, as well as the collective depression of being a loyalist belonging to the losing side.

As a young man I did become involved in the political process when I supported Angus MacLean in his bid to become Premier, and ended up in his office during the two years he served; however, that had nothing to do with partisan loyalty, and we both understood that. I was there because I believed strongly in what he stood for, and still do.

My point in all of this is simply to say that there comes a time when uncritical political partisanship can seriously jeopardize the well being of the society. I do understand the stability that the old-style politics afforded, but there is a fine line between stability and stagnation, and I believe we have crossed it. Long ago.

When the political leadership manifests a loyalty to party, and party supporters, that supersedes the well being of the entire province, it is time for a political re-set.

I am not suggesting that the two old parties will never again be worthy of support, only that Islanders need to pay attention closely to see if they deserve it, and be willing to withhold it if they don’t, no matter how your grandfathers voted. Time to get the wheels out of old ruts.

Time for some fresh vision. Something that will allow us to move past the mediocrity that cripples our current system.


Global Chorus is by Iowa State professor and organic farmer Frederick Kirschenmann, author of Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher

There are plenty of interviews if you web-search for him. Here is a succinct biography: https://www.leopold.iastate.edu/people/frederick-kirschenmann

Back in 2005 James Hansen warned us that “we have at most ten years to make drastic cuts in emissions that might head off climate convulsions.” One thing the climatologists seem to have misjudged is the speed at which climate change is taking place. Polar ice caps are melting faster than most predicted. Severe weather events seem to be dominating the planet sooner than they imagined.

Consequently it is easy to become discouraged about our future on the planet. However, we do know what we need to do and while we humans have a verifiable track record demonstrating our ability to remain in denial, there is also a record demonstrating our ability to take significant action in brief time periods.

While it is increasingly difficult to remain optimistic about our fate it is important to remember that hopefulness is different from optimism. Optimism assumes that things will turn out alright, which, ironically often leads to inaction. Hopefulness is about doing the right thing even when we are uncertain about the outcome. And when we act together in hope, often an unanticipated convergence of events take place which bring about unimaginable change. Joining together as a global community and doing the right thing even though we cannot be sure of the outcome is our only hope, and our children and grandchildren are depending on us to do it!

— Frederick Kirschenmann

July 9, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Downtown Farmers' Market, 11AM to 4PM, on Lower Queen Street.



Tide Talk, with author Jonathan White, 5PM, Confederation Centre of the Arts(not quite sure where in the complex).

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) presents Tides Talk with author Jonathan White. Tides Talk is a thought-provoking presentation led by Johnathan White, who will discuss various topics from his book Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean. Jonathan is currently on a North American tour discussing his book and we are very fortunate to have him visit the Martimes! NCC will be discussing their 35-plus years of working along PEI’s scenic coastlines conserving salt marshes, sand dunes and coastal wildlife habitat.



The Sierra Club is raising awareness that while areas of the oceans are labeled Marine Protection Areas, the Canadian federal Minister of Fisheries Dominic LeBlanc has said 80% would be open to oil and gas exploration. Including the Laurentian Channel/Gulf of St. Lawrence. Consider signing:


And so is the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society:



Someone passed this one from this idea-sharing-network; thanks to that person. It's a cheery look at things:

from: http://thepowerofideas.ideapod.com/something-extraordinary-happening-world-not-many-people-noticed/

Something Extraordinary is Happening in the World, and Not Many People Have Noticed

by Ideapod, published on-line on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Most of us haven’t quite realized there’s something extraordinary happening in the world. We’re so caught up in the demands of daily life, coping with impossible workloads, demanding personal relationships, feelings of alienation and vague constant worry that we seldom pause to question our perspective.

Things are happening too fast, we say. I can’t keep up. Where is it all going to end? There’s so much wrong with the world. But are things so bad? Can you trust your perspective? Is there another perspective? One that says the world is showing signs of positive change.

Here are just five of the many ways the world is getting better that you might not have taken the time to properly consider.

  1. The Internet is creating a global village of informed people Keeping in mind that the Internet is not in full use across the globe, this most impactful invention has brought many positive changes to our lives. The Internet gave rise to the Age of Information as people everywhere gain access to kinds of information. Anybody can find out anything, no one needs to be ignorant. In providing a platform for communication, the exchange of information around the globe is fast and continuous. Access to the Internet is showing people that they can improve their conditions, that there are ways to reconcile. It has given a voice to everyone. The Internet has shrunk the world and brought us closer by making others and their circumstances more real through images and videos.

  2. A new de-centralized model is halting unabated consumerism Disillusionment with consumerism (also fuelled by communication on the Internet) has given rise to the sharing economy exemplified by companies like Air BnB and Uber. These companies and others like them, cut costs of services by allowing individuals to directly provide services without the involvement of a third-party, or even the necessity for a place of business. The sharing economy has people making money, renting out their homes or cars, hitching rides with others and swapping clothes instead of buying new ones or throwing them away. Renting out cars and hitching rides with others means fewer cars are on the road, so air pollution is also being tackled.

  3. A better work model is emerging People are fed-up with the existing work model and technology is giving them a way out. The general workforce is overworked and overstressed. Many don’t see the value in the work they’re doing or feel undervalued in their current roles. The brave are quitting their jobs to start out on their own. The sharing economy that makes working space available with access to Wi-Fi and other amenities makes setting up your own office without owning one possible. Online platforms like Upwork and Freelancer provide opportunities for people to work remotely and many companies are now allowing their employees to work some days of the week from home.

  4. We have access to healthy food again The madness of GMO foods is coming to an end. According to the Organic Trade Association organic food sales in the US increase by double digits annually, far outstripping the growth rate of the overall food market. Europe is also showing a double digit growth in the organic food market. Farmers markets are becoming popular again and people are streaming to them to buy real food from local farmers. Growing awareness of what goes into food has led to consumer pressure that has seen fast food companies like McDonalds lose market share. But, don’t’ stress. Fast food is not going away. There are startups looking at ways to provide us with healthy fast food!

  5. We don’t have to be manipulated by mainstream news media anymore Alternative news media is providing us with news we can trust. Increasingly people interested in knowing what’s really going on, are shunning mainstream news media and turning to alternative news sources. Netizens, suspicious of government sponsored news reports are turning to websites where independent journalists report on issues not covered by mainstream media. This trend has spawned a new wave of investigative journalism that uncovers the truth and publishes it, not edited versions thereof.


Thomas Berry was a Catholic priest, author, "geologian and ecotheologan".

The Great Work before us, the task of moving modern industrial civilization from its present devastating influence on the Earth to a more benign mode of presence, is not a role that we have chosen. We were chosen by some power beyond ourselves for this historical task. The nobility of our lives, however, depends upon the manner in which we come to understand and fulfill our assigned role.

We must believe that those powers that assign our role must in that same act bestow upon us the ability to fulfill this role. We must believe that we are cared for and guided by these same powers that bring us into being.

Our own special role, which we will hand on to our children, is that of managing the arduous transition from the terminal Cenozoic to the emerging Ecozoic Era, the period when humans will be present to the planet as participating members of the comprehensive Earth community. This is our Great Work.8

--Thomas Berry

July 8, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open today in:

Charlottetown (9AM-2PM)

Summerside (9AM-1PM)

Stanley Bridge (9AM-1PM)

Cardigan (10AM-2PM)

Murray Harbour (9AM-noon)

(and I am not certain if Bloomfield's Farmers' Market is open yet)


They may have extended the deadline (which was yesterday), but the PEI Federation of Agriculture was advertising for a "Farm and Food Care Coordinator" position. I am not sure what a "Farm and Food Care Coordinator" is exactly but a background in marketing and communications was a must while "experience in agriculture will be considered an asset." More info: http://peifa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Farm-and-Food-Care-Coordinator-1.pdf


Another deadline that passed but sounds like a great initiative, is the Community Garden Mentor Program, details here:


"The program is a capacity-building initiative that provided participants with organic vegetable growing skills and facilitation training through a shared learning experience. It encourages the exchange of knowledge about topics such as soil health, seed saving, site selection, garden design, (etc.).....and prepares participants to be garden mentors to groups and/or individuals who are beginning gardeners."


Tonight on CTV at 8PM our time (I think) is a one-hour recap of the highlights of the WE Day Canada festival held last Sunday in Ottawa.

from: http://www.ctv.ca/WE-Day/Articles/July-2017/CTV-and-MUCH-celebrate-Canada-150-with-WE-Day-Cana

The one-hour special celebrates Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation and Canadian youth by highlighting Canada’s young change makers and their ability to build a stronger, more compassionate Canada over the next 150 years.

The special is hosted by Canadian NHL player and philanthropist P.K. Subban and features special performances by the JUNO Award-winning Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies, multi-platinum recording group and WE Ambassadors Hedley; entertainer Lilly Singh featuring Humble the Poet and WE ambassador Nelly Furtado.

Uplifting messages from Canadian community change makers such as Hani Al Moulia, Talitha Tolles and National Chief Perry Bellegarde will also be featured.

Facebook event details


From Islander mother, writer and visionary, Jill MacCormack, today's Global Chorus essay. Jill blogs at http://prattleandponder.blogspot.ca/

It goes without saying that we are living in a time of tremendous social confusion and environmental discord. This awareness can cause despair or be viewed as grounds from which new ways of understanding and responding can emerge.

Why consider new ways of responding? Because right now as you read this you are a living, breathing creature of a wondrous and beautifully interconnected web of life. A web which holds us all in its balance and is capable of amazing resilience and regeneration if given the protection it requires to do so.

How can we facilitate this protection? By choosing to live more gently in the world. Through speaking out against practices which are harmful to LIFE in all its complexity, and collectively moving towards a way of living which is more mindful of the daily

choices we make, we can better safeguard and share the world’s limited resources.

Why be hopeful? In making conscious choices such as actively simplifying our lifestyles, resisting the seductive lure of consumerism and the monoculture it generates, and honouring our connection to the natural world, we are choosing to create a better plausible outcome than what is predicted if we continue on our current trajectory. How we, who have the power of choice, choose to live our lives matters deeply to the rest of the world.

Willingness to acknowledge the gravity of our current situation and choosing to act for the better in the face of that knowledge, creates the positive change our world so desperately needs. We cannot afford to be cautiously optimistic. HOPE is needed for us to change our ways of interacting with each other and the world.

--Jill MacCormick

July 7, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Cardigan Farmers' Market is open today (and tomorrow) from 10AM-2PM.

Upcoming event:

July 13th -16th -- PEI Fest, various times and locations, ticketed.

Two movies followed by discussions which may of interest:

Friday, July 14th:

Bluefin, 9PM, by islander John Hopkins.

Bluefin is a tale of epic stakes set in North Lake, Prince Edward Island, known as the “tuna capital of the world.” Local fishermen swear the spectacular Atlantic bluefin tuna are so plentiful here they literally eat out of people’s hands. But many scientists contend the species is on the brink of collapse. Can both claims be true?Ticket Pro link


Saturday, July 15th:

A Better Man, 2PM, Florence Simmons Hall, Holland College, more info

Illuminating a unique paradigm for domestic-violence prevention, A Better Man offers a fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone involved when men take responsibility for their abuse. It also empowers audience members to play new roles in challenging domestic violence, whether it’s in their own relationships or as part of a broader movement for social change.

PEI Fest Website


Speaking of movies, one that is in the process of being made but could use some funding is Prehistoric PEI, by William Becket. There is an Indigogo fundraising site, with some very nice little incentives if you give certain amounts of money.

P.E.I.'s fossil history is interesting and it will be great to see this film get going!



Today's Global Chorus is by Richard Zimmerman, founding director of Orangutan Outreach. In many ways awareness on this issue has really happened over the past three or so years since it was written. Look sideways at the cluster of punctuation after his name, as that's copied directly from the book.

Ecological nightmares are a dime a dozen these days, but one you probably haven’t even heard of is the decimation of tropical rainforests in order to clear land for oil palm plantations.

Palm oil is a hidden ingredient in everything from cookies, candy and junk food to shampoo, soap and skin cream. Ironically, it’s also used for biodiesel, a so-called “green” fuel. Ninety per cent of the global supply of palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. The UNEP estimates that the forests of Borneo and Sumatra are being cleared at a rate of six football fields per minute every minute of every day – releasing so much carbon into the atmosphere that Indonesia now ranks third behind only China and the U.S. in carbon emissions. Palm oil is synonymous with global warming and climate change.

Orangutans are gentle, intelligent creatures who share 97 per cent of our DNA. They live in only two places on Earth – the forests of Borneo and Sumatra – and they are critically endangered. Orangutan babies are precious little bundles of orange fluff with big brown eyes and even bigger smiles, grasping their mother’s shaggy red hair high in the treetops. Deforestation has led to the slaughter of thousands of orangutans as palm oil companies expand into their forest home. When the forests are cleared, adults are shot on sight. They are beaten, burned, mutilated, tortured and often eaten. Babies are torn off their dying mothers so they can be sold to animal smugglers. Since this holocaust began, more than a thousand orphaned and displaced orangutans have been rescued and brought to rehabilitation centers in Borneo and Sumatra.

An attempt is now being made to reverse this horrific trend. Since 2012 more than 100 rehabilitated orangutans have been released back into a safe, secure forest in the Heart of Borneo. It takes around 300 individuals to maintain a stable gene pool, so with hundreds more scheduled to be released in years to come, for the first time in history a new wild orangutan population is being created.

Despite having spent years in cages, the orangutans are not wasting any time. Nine months after the first orangutans were released, the monitoring team was greeted by a wonderful surprise: babies. If you want to reduce global warming and save the planet, then save the orangutans and their forests.

— Richard Zimmerman, {:(|}

July 6, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Farm Centre Farmers' Market, 4-8PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue. Produce and many other homemade items, entertainment.


An update on the fate of the residents living in the apartment block destined to be demolished to make way for a Holland College dormitory, on the south side of Grafton and Cumberland Street, from yesterday's Guardian op-ed page:


REV. BOB HUTCHESON: Our brothers’, sisters’ keepers - The Guardian Opinion piece by Bob Hutcheson

About 25 evicted tenants in old building on Cumberland Street find new accommodations by July

published on Wednesday, July 5th, 2017, in The Guardian

Well, the 150th anniversary celebrations have come and gone, albeit with mixed reviews.

But another very significant event came and went on the same day as Canada 150, seemingly unnoticed by most.

Thinking back to April and May, you will likely remember the announcement that about 25 tenants in an old building on Cumberland Street were to be evicted on July 1. The announcement was from Holland College. They were purchasing the property to build a new student residence

A lot of people were incensed. Apparently there was no plan for relocating the residents. It was evident that these people were among the most disadvantaged in the city - indeed in the Island.

Talking to politicians and people in real estate, it became evident that these “poorest of the poor” had not a leg to stand on. Government showed little interest in changing things.

Worse, government statistics showed that there was virtually no rental housing available for any class of people let alone the least powerful or advantaged (1.6 per cent in Charlottetown last November)

The City was well aware of the situation - (the Mayor works for Holland College so he left things for the Deputy Mayor to handle.) They claimed there was nothing the city could do - even though the City’s Strategic Plan says the City will be working with other levels of government to resolve issues of housing.

The Province expressed some interest in the problem but I have no evidence that they ever rolled up their collective sleeves - at least publicly.

Whether because of public pressure or out of a stricken conscience, Holland College got in gear and commissioned Della Parker of Parker Realty to help these worried people to find housing accommodation.

To make a long story short, it was nip and tuck but Ms. Parker and her firm did it. By June 30, Parker had seen to it that all the would-be evicted tenants had a place to live. More than that, most of the new accommodation found was of better quality that what they were moving from.

(There is one problem not resolved. The last I heard, the two businesses located in the old building had not found a place to set up shop.)

So what lessons are to be learned? That is a hard question to answer.

Certainly the Guardian and other media kept the key players’ feet to the fire for a good part of the time. Hopefully, they can be counted on to do the same and more in future dire situations, which threaten the basic well being of the less fortunate.

A small, stirred-up group of citizens brought issues before the public as best they could. It seemed they were frustrated for the seeming lack of concrete results.

Yet, they undoubtedly had an influence on the final result.

Secondly, any suggestion that government is addressing the issues is a huge stretch of the truth. There are several agencies, which in theory have a key role in situations such as this. I visited several of them. They want to help but their organizations are not much more than a shell. They have a couple of staff but virtually no resources to back them up.

Thirdly, it would appear that Holland College did not work from a position of principle. They had pretty much a free hand to do what they chose. The end result is at least partly to their credit. But surely people, in a David-and-Goliath battle like this should not be thrown to the lions. They need to have certain rights and an advocate who sees to it that they are not victimized simply to serve the wants and needs of the rich and powerful. Like it or not this is up to all three levels of government.

There are other lessons to be learned but I am not at all confident that most will do any more than to pass this off with the hope that no one will press them too hard on improving our readiness to tackle such issues.

But probably our most important lesson is, we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

- Rev. Bob Hutcheson, of Charlottetown, is a retired minister of the United Church of Canada.


Not finding suitable -- in just a prominent location -- accommodations for the two businesses (Sadat's Restaurant and the Asian Grocery) by this time should give Holland College and the City great shame.


Related to the Global Chorus essay below -- strong words, but calmly defended -- in The Nation on-line, by the environmental correspondent Mark Hertsgarard :

Donald Trump’s Withdrawal From the Paris Accords Is a Crime Against Humanity - The Nation article by Mark Hertsgaard

This is murder—even if Trump’s willful ignorance of climate science prevents him from seeing it as such.


"By removing the rules and regulations that require polluters in the United States to change their ways, Trump’s repudiation of the Paris Agreement will slow progress at the very time when humanity’s survival requires faster action than ever. "


Today's Global Chorus is by Paul Ekins, a professor of sustainable economics and co-Director at the UK Energy Research Centre. Good words, and we must be relentless in trying to convince some others of the truth in his words.

Humanity is indeed at a crossroads. There are many choices to be made, but two fundamental changes are required to how humankind currently goes about its business: first, we need to realize deep, deep down that our species, like all others, is part of and profoundly dependent on the biosphere, and that lasting damage to this biosphere is the most anti-social, and stupidest, outcome that we can bring about; and second, we need to realize deep, deep down that our societies are now profoundly interdependent, so that damage to one can very easily become damage to many, and co-operative international relations are essential if we are to thrive and, in the long term, are perhaps even a condition for survival.

These are indeed huge changes from the routine environmental destruction and often warring competition between countries that have disfigured the human experience since the dawn of what we call civilization. But they are certainly not inconceivable. In fact, many people already work with great commitment on different aspects of these issues, and much progress has been made on many fronts. But not enough. And not fast enough. The issues of climate change and biodiversity destruction, in particular, cry out for a new Earth ethic to become established, together with the global co-operation to build the institutions and policies to implement it.

My particular specialist field is the economics of energy, the environment and climate change. I can say categorically that, even at this late stage in the drama, we have the technologies and economic resources, and institutional capabilities, to contain climate change and move systematically towards an environmentally and socially sustainable economy. But the window of opportunity is closing fast. Can we do it? Yes, we can. Will we do it? In the absence of a reliable crystal ball, my only answer is: we must try.

— Dr. Paul Ekins

July 5, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Wednesdays in summers mean Farmers' Markets open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and now Stanley Bridge opening today (9AM-1PM).


Thursday, July 6th:

AGM for Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association, 6-7:30PM, Alberton Arts and Heritage Centre, 420 Church Street.

Guest speaker will be Honorable Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment. His topic will be the Prince Edward Island Water Act. There will also be a short question and answer period after his presentation.

General public is cordially invited to attend. The CBWA will report on last years activities and what is planned for the 2017/2018 season.

Please share!!


Here is a great, in-depth article on how organic farmers deal with pests:



And from the always insightful Allan Rankin, from last week: http://www.theislandheartbeat.com/?p=2132

Our Island Mansion Has Many Rooms - The Island Heartbeat blog by Allan Rankin

We should never kid ourselves into thinking that Prince Edward Island is a simple place, where class divisions don’t exist, and all of us live pretty much the same social and economic realities.

When I was growing up at Glover’s Shore, on the outskirts of Summerside, I was very much an outlier. Most of my friends at school lived in the big houses in town, and their fathers owned stores and sold insurance, while my father worked in construction, troweling cement and putting up buildings. It wasn’t race divided New York, or the poor side of town that Johnny Rivers sings about, but I felt excluded and apart.

As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t seem to cross that divide that separated Glover’s Shore from the more established town, and at Summerside High School I felt a strange kinship with the Acadian students, whose labouring class parents stayed within their designated, apartheid-like community west of Central Street.

It puzzles me when people in government, and occasionally the media, claim that rural and urban Prince Edward Island are one and the same. They would have us believe that Tignish is just like Brighton, or that the lobster fishermen of North Rustico or Murray Harbour have a great deal in common with the lawyers and accountants on Queen Street in Charlottetown.

It is true that many residents of our capital city are just one generation themselves from the farms and small rural villages that once doted the province, and there have been some levelling influences over the past twenty years. Nevertheless, we do have a capital city which tries extremely hard to be sophisticated and urbane, and I believe that rural and urban Prince Edward Island still to possess their own distinct personalities.

What follows is a tale of two places.

My wife’s family comes from Christopher’s Cross, just north of Tignish, a traditional Irish and Acadian community of farmers and fishermen. They are proud, hard working people who, in the early part of the last century, liberated themselves from the economic slavery of merchant barons by organizing cooperatively, and building their own economic independence. Today, the Tignish area is one of the wealthiest communities in the province.

But when I started going there in the late 1960s, Tignish was less opulent, and the economic gulf between rural west Prince and Charlottetown was deep and wide.

For my wife’s two sisters, getting out of Tignish after high school, and away from a simple, unadorned rural lifestyle was a priority. They set out for Saint Dunstan’s University in Charlottetown, and then to other parts of Canada, where the bright city lights beckoned. After many years living away, one of them returned to the Island with her family and settled in Charlottetown. The other has since followed. Their attachment to the Island, and to family, is strong and abiding, but even the acceptance of family has its limitations.

Their father, a well educated and accomplished man whose contributions to the cooperative movement on the Island are prodigious, didn’t care much about the material world or its social conventions. The old beat up blue Duster he drove for many years also transported calves in the back seat when necessary and wasn’t much to look at. So when he attended a credit union meeting in Charlottetown, and overnighted at his daughter’s house in Brighton, she would get him to leave the Duster at our house in Breadalbane, and pick him up there, rather than suffer the embarrassment of having the old car from the country parked in her suburban driveway.

But there was a kind of poetic justice to it all.

Years later, the mother up in Tignish felt similarly embarrassed to have her Brighton daughter’s Lexus SUV sitting outside her modest country home. When she complained, the wiser, older Charlottetown daughter quipped, “put a horse blanket over it mother, and call it a day.”

It seems that modesty is offended by luxury, just as luxury is offended by modesty.

To borrow a Biblical platitude, our Island mansion has many rooms. Driving from East Point to the barrier reef at North Cape we pass through many different communities, separated by ethnicity, economic livelihood, and class. Le Region Evangeline is not Highland Belfast. Hillsborough Village is not Lewis Point Park. Souris is not Stratford.

And speaking of driving, have you ever noticed that Charlottetown people find it difficult to leave their metropolis. The distance to any rural location seems intimidating and formidable, almost like a cross Canada expedition. “Drop the sweater off when you’re in town,” is the city dwellers expectation, not “I’ll drive out and pick up the sweater.” The highways connecting rural Prince Edward Island to the capital city seem to go in only one direction, and our government has encouraged that one-way traffic with policies that make it increasingly difficult to live in rural communities east and west.

Instead of flying off to Florida, or cruising the seven seas, perhaps it should be mandatory for Charlottetown residents to winter holiday in Souris, or St. Louis, and experience rural life for themselves.

Our Island mansion does have many rooms, and we remain a community separated in profound ways.


Yesterday, NASA announced its next astronaut class, including two Canadians, Jennifer Sidey and Joshua Kutryk, both from Alberta. Today's Global Chorus essay is by Marc Garneau, the first Canadian astronaut in space. Garneau is current an MP and Minister of Transport; the leap to politics has not been as smooth as his space days, but this essay is certainly poetic:

When you first look at Earth from space, it is achingly beautiful. It is mesmerizing. You can’t take your eyes off it. A warm and inviting sphere of light and colour, surrounded by the utter darkness of space; our shared home, our only home.

As time goes by and your eye zeroes in on detail, you realize that it is not perfection; that it is damaged and that it is we who have damaged it: deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, polluted estuaries emptying into the sea and great swaths of yellow-brown air, all visible to the naked eye.

Seven billion of us share this planet and it is straining under our relentless onslaught. It’s not that we are destroying Earth on purpose. In many cases,

we’re just struggling to survive. But we are all paying a price. Earth’s oceans of air and water belong to all of us. I can understand this stark reality from the vantage point of space. I wish everyone could see what I see.

Down below, the perspective is different. We see the polluted stream, the belching smokestack, the clear-cut forest. But we lack that sense of scale. It’s all about scale and perspective.

And yet some do understand the magnitude of what is happening. Their minds can grasp that even though the change may be slow, it is relentless, and in some cases, irreversible. And they are wise enough to think beyond the needs of their own lifetime. For that reason alone, there is hope.

— Marc Garneau

July 4, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tuesday odds and ends:

There is still on-line voting to help earn funds for the Glenaladale Homestead restoration project; you can register and vote once daily for the next couple days.



This nine minute video is by Naomi Klein, describing her work "No is Not Enough" about responding to the almost continuous chaos and shocking of people by U.S. President Trump's government. It is entertaining, but also prescriptive, and in a way, calming.



We are affected by every twitch and grunt by our neighbour down south, to paraphrase former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, from his famous speech to Washington's Press Club in 1969. Here is a two-minute excerpt from it with the well-known his observation toward the end:



Justin Trudeau was interviewed by just one Guardian reporter last Thursday and he may have felt like he was in a roomful. Teresa Wright asked clear, firm questions, and let his answers (or meanderings) speak for themselves. Here is a link to The Guardian's article: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/2017/7/3/q-a--trudeau-says-acoa-minister-from-toronto-reduces-bad-politic.html

Including his repeating that he feels proportional representation is bad for the country, and takes away the focus on growing the economy and the middle class.

And here is the text of the amazing letter written, gotten on-line and shared, and gathered over 300 signatures and printed out, for the Prime Minister Thursday on the waterfront, published in Monday, July 3rd, 2017's Guardian:


JORDAN BOBER: Moving democracy forward - The Guardian Opinion piece by Jordan Bober

“We are deeply disappointed that both Premier MacLauchlan and yourself have missed this golden opportunity…”

An open letter written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by members of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation and personally delivered to the Prime Minister last week his stop on Charlottetown, along with the digital signatures of hundreds of Islanders who signed it.

Dear Prime Minister:

Welcome to Charlottetown, the birthplace of Canadian confederation! We are honoured that you’ve come to visit on the eve of the 150th anniversary celebrations.

We, the undersigned, had some big dreams for Canada 150. We Islanders believed that the birthplace of Confederation could, 150 years later, become the birthplace of democratic renewal in this country.

We dared to imagine that P.E.I. could once again lead Canada’s democracy into its next phase - into a future in which every voter is truly represented in Canada’s parliament, and where the parliament reflects the diversity of the country's political views. A future which requires collaboration between parties, rather than competition, to help the country move forward.

Such a vision for parliament is only possible with an electoral system based on Proportional Representation, and that is what islanders voted for in last November’s plebiscite: Mixed Member Proportional Representation was the electoral system of choice; First Past the Post trailed in support by 10 percentage points.

We were shocked and dismayed when Premier Wade MacLauchlan and his Liberal caucus chose not to honour the vote, and even more shocked when the same was repeated on the federal level only a few months later: after investing $4.1 million in the work of the Electoral Reform (ERRE) Committee, you discarded their recommendation that Canada have a national referendum on Proportional Representation.

We are deeply disappointed that both Premier MacLauchlan and yourself have missed this golden opportunity for progress. We know that both of you value the contributions that women and marginalized communities make to Canada’s society, and yet you have both chosen not to implement a key reform which would have enhanced the participation of those under-represented groups in our parliament.

On May 31, our local MP Sean Casey stood up in the House of Commons and chose to honour the vote of his constituents, by voting in favour of the concurrence motion to accept the report of the ERRE committee. He listened to his constituents, and showed respect to the committee who studied the testimony of expert witnesses before the ERRE committee. We commend Mr. Casey for his action and for representing us.

Just this week, you have clearly stated your personal opinion that you think ‘Proportional Representation would be bad for our country,’ and that you would have preferred a ranked ballot reform. We suggest that - just like Premier MacLauchlan here on P.E.I. - the power of elected office seems to have blinded you to the weight of evidence in favour of Proportional Representation, against which your opinion cannot stand for long.

When you were elected, you committed to evidence-based decision making. You invested $4.1 million dollars in the ERRE committee who heard 60 days worth of evidence at public meetings. The results were clear.

We urge you to listen to the voice of your constituents, as Sean Casey did, and to the voice of experts who testified to the ERRE committee. At the next election - both here on P.E.I. and federally - we will be looking for candidates who will clearly commit to moving Canada’s democracy forward with Proportional Representation, preparing the ground for the next 150 years of good governance.

Better is always possible, and in the project of democracy, better means proportional representation.

Next time you visit, we hope you can stay a little longer and talk with us at a public event.

- Jordan Bober, Charlottetown, on behalf of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation


And the Global Chorus essay for today is written by explorer and anthropologist Wade Davis, whose interview on CBC Radio's The Current from last year was replayed this morning, of all coincidences.

From the intro on the CBC page to listen to the 25 minute interview:

Wade Davis has spent more than a decade travelling the globe to visit the peoples, cultures, and languages, in danger of extinction. The anthropologist says the cultural life of our planet is under assault and deserves to be heard.

On Christmas Eve, 1968, Apollo emerged from the dark side of the moon to see rising over its surface not a sunrise but the Earth itself ascendant, a small and fragile planet, floating in the velvet void of space. This image more than any amount of scientific data showed us that our planet is a finite place, a single interactive sphere of life, a living organism composed of air, water, wind and soil. This revelation, only made possible by the brilliance of science, sparked a paradigm shift that people will be speaking about for the rest of history.

Almost immediately we began to think in new ways. Just imagine. Thirty years ago simply getting people to stop throwing garbage out of a car window was a great environmental victory. No one spoke of the biosphere or biodiversity; now these terms are part of the vocabulary of schoolchildren.

Like a great wave of hope, this energy of illumination, made possible by the space program, spread everywhere. So many positive things have happened in the intervening years. In little more than a generation, women have gone from the kitchen to the boardroom, gay people from the closet to the altar, African Americans from the back door and the woodshed to the White House.

What’s not to love about a country and a world capable of such scientific genius, such cultural capacity for change and renewal?

Creativity is a consequence of action, not its motivation. Do what needs to be done and then ask whether it was possible or permissible. Pessimism is an indulgence, orthodoxy the enemy of invention, despair an insult to the imagination.

— Wade Davis

July 3, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

July 2, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

July 1, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Canada Day!

Cake from a Bonshaw Canada Celebration a few years ago.

It's an odd day, a mix of both regular Saturday and holiday, with Farmers' Markets open in Charlottetown, Summerside and Cardigan, but the public library and several businesses closed or closing early.

Here is an interesting two minute video "Why Canada 150 Is the Beginning of Indigenous Reoccupation."

If it does not work at that link, you should be able to find it through Vice's Facebook page.

Related, here is a national CBC story from three days ago about the National Farmers Union supporting the Idle No More group's call to action.


Electoral Reform: Coverage by the local CBC yesterday, on the Prime Minister's reaction to the Letter from the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation, including many comments by member Jordan Bober, is here.


An upcoming event:

Friday, July 14th:

Documentary: Bluefin, by John Hopkins, 8:30-10PM, Florence Simmons Hall at Holland College, part of the PEI Fest. Tickets needed.

Here's a chance to see Bluefin, the acclaimed National Film Board of Canada documentary by Island filmmaker John Hopkins. Q&A will follow the screening.

In the stunning documentary Bluefin, director John Hopkins crafts a tale of epic stakes set in the “tuna capital of the world.” Filmed in North Lake, Prince Edward Island, Canada, the film explores the baffling mystery of why the normally wary bluefin tuna no longer fear humans. Hopkins documents this phenomenon with breathtaking cinematography and brings the issues into sharp focus, at the heart of which lies a passionate concern for the fate of these giant fish.

Facebook event details.

PEI FEST details from The Buzz


Today's Global Chorus essay is by Olivia Chow, longtime Toronto City Councillor and MP for Trinity-Spadina from 2006-2014, the partner of former NDP Leader Jack Layton. Jack died six years ago this August.

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Those words from Jack Layton’s last message to Canadians inspired people across the country. It was a message of hope – and, more important, it was a call to action. Hope itself – blind hope, is not enough. We can’t just hope that somebody else will take care of our problems. Hope is not a strategy. We must work to make hope a reality. That is the major reason I was drawn to a career in politics – to help bring people together and work for change.

We know that we must change direction – in Canada and in our world – because right now, we are on a collision course with disaster. The signs are clear – from the unprecedented flooding that devastated Calgary in 2013, to the horrendous typhoon that ravaged the Philippines. But we can change course. We can take action. We can give the next generation reason to hope.

There are so many things we could achieve – a national public transit strategy would be a good start. That’s something I have been promoting for years, because public transit is a cornerstone of both social equality and sustainability. Civic leaders and municipalities and business groups are all singing the same tune now; only the federal Conservative government remains deaf on this issue. Ultimately, the government will change course – or people will get together and work and vote to change the government. It will happen. Will something as basic as public transit in Canada change the world? Nothing will, in isolation. But changing course will – and bringing people together with a common mission. People will join the chorus if they see reason to hope. When enough voices join the chorus, no government can turn a deaf ear. You can’t do it solo. By joining your voice with others, the voice becomes strong. The music soars. Eventually, everyone will hear. The lone voice may be lost. The global chorus will be heard.

— Olivia Chow