June 30, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
I think people have figured out that with it being a holiday tomorrow, there should be no public consultations tonight.
Here are some dates in the future, though:
MPs Sean Casey (Charlottetown) and Wayne Easter (Malpeque) are using their summer breaks from Parliament to engage with the public about climate change and (in Sean's case so far), electoral reform.
Tuesday, July 12th:
Electoral Reform Town Hall with Sean Casey
Wednesday, July 13th:
Climate Change Town Hall with Wayne Easter, 7PM, Hunter River Community Centre.
Wednesday, August 10th:
Climate Change Town Hall with Sean Casey
Final Energy Strategy meeting:
About 70 people attended the last public consultation on the provincial energy strategy, held at the Farm Centre. After a run-through of what was changed in this draft based on the public response to the first draft, people migrated to small groups to discuss specific topics and recommendations, and then highlights were shared.
The bottom line is that P.E.I. is full of bright, caring people who are willing to be inside on a summer's evening, listening mostly and chiming in about such an important topic. Such is the conscientious brain trust on P.E.I.
A screen from Dunsky Consulting charting public interest in the Provincial Energy Strategy, Wednesday, June 29th, 2016, Farm Centre;
public input and social media at work.
And a public consultation, usually seen with dismay by the bureaucrats who have to put them on and are endured like having one's teeth overzealously cleaned at a dental office, was actually pleasant for them and of course made the bureaucrats' job easier, in some ways. And they acknowledged that.
The room was packed with a range of Islanders, including current and recent graduates of the Holland College Energy Systems Engineering Technology program (Good job to instructor Mr. Hardy for keeping them informed about these meetings), with a handful of MLAs (Sidney MacEwen-- District 7: Morell-Mermaid, Peter Bevan-Baker -- District 17:Kelly's Cross-Cumberland, and Brad Trivers -- District 18:Rustico-Emerald), and people of all ages, from a couple of high school kids to a person who reminded many of us that we may not be around in 2050 to see that goal of 100% renewables; so let's work hard to see 50% by 2025.
I'll get into the nitty-gritty of what was recommended to be improved in this strategy in the next day or two.
ANY public comments are appreciated and can be submitted until Friday, July 15th, at the PEI Energy Corporation website, www.peiec.ca
June 29, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Final public consultation meeting on the Provincial Energy Strategy draft, 7PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue. All welcome, for any part of it. Even if you haven't been able to play close attention or feel you don't have a good opinion, consider attending anyway to hear the official presentation and lots of good discussion. Public comments will be accepted for a couple of weeks.
more details: http://www.peiec.ca/
Viewing for on-line auction of contents of the now-closed Bonshaw 500 Amusement Park, 5-7PM, on-location on the old highway (called Strathgartney Road, off connector road off Plan B highway).
screenshot from auction website
Along with the Windsor Motel in New Haven and Bonshaw Breezes Bed and Breakfast, another local business that did not survive Plan B highway construction.
The Cornwall Bypass announcement yesterday was a bit of surprise -- I don't remember hearing this as a priority in this year's Speech from the Throne -- but some form of this project has always been in the background, some of the land being amassed over the past few years.
Screenshot from media reports; map from government
Many thoughts swirl around about it, but the ones that are most glaring right now is that it is a huge price tag -even with "50-cent dollars" for a province in severe debt; a project covering acres of farmland with asphalt.
June 28, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight is the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy workshop in Montague, hosted by UPEI's Climate Research Lab. More details here:
The end of June is a Halcyon time to some, due to the an event three years ago when construction on the ill-suited Plan B highway was in full swing. A sharp-eyed environmental monitor, Larry Cosgrave, noticed that a pair of birds had made a nest in the partially excavated side of the existing TransCanada Highway in New Haven. The birds were identified as Belted Kingfishers (Meraceryle alcyon).
Modified from Answers.com:
Halcyone (or Alcyone): in Greek mythology, Halcyone threw herself into the sea when her husband drowned. Out of pity the gods changed the pair into kingfishers (or halcyons), and Zeus forbade the winds to blow seven days before and after the winter solstice, to protect their breeding season. The expression "halcyon days" comes from this myth and means a time of peace and tranquility or that of a lucky break, or a bright interval set in the midst of adversity.
from Creative Common
Belted Kingfishers are migratory and are protected while they are nesting, and
Environment Department Manager of Investigation Wade MacKinnon back in June 2013 issued an "exclusion zone" around the area -- 100 metres for vehicles and 20 metres for any monitors on foot. The foreman fumed but turned attention elsewhere, and the pair raised their nestlings. Once they left the nest, work resumed.
From June 2013, excavation below then-current TCH in New Haven, with two nesting holes. (apologies if the photo doesn't copy properly)
When the Stop Plan B group formed the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I., we chose the kingfisher to be on the logo.
And we hope we continue to watch, and point out issues and misguided government decisions, especially related to environment and democratic areas, and be "the positive voice for public change."
June 27, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Climate Change Adaption strategy workshop -- Charlottetown, 7PM, West Royalty Community Centre, hosted by the Climate Change Lab from UPEI. A presentation by Adam Fenech of the Climate Change Lab, and some discussion. "The goal is to identify ideas, techniques, and technologies that will better position our province to adapt to the changing climate while minimizing our contributions to climate change." (from the short article in last Monday's Guardian)
Tuesday's is at the Montague Town Hall.
Wednesday's is at the Souris Striders Ski Lodge, all at 7PM.
Wednesday, June 29th:
Provincial Energy Strategy final public consultation, 7PM, Farm Centre, free. The only meeting to discuss the second draft on the plan for the province's energy usage (our energy usage!) in the next few years.
Alan E. MacPhee writes in a recent Guardian opinion piece about rural health care and public participation and self-determination (bold is mine):
Health P.E.I. objectives not met for Islanders - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Alan E. MacPhee
Published on Saturday, June 25th, 2016
By its own measure, Health P.E.I. has failed to achieve its stated objectives
Rural P.E.I. desires positive, good things. Rural economies are strong and continue to provide increased tax support for urban and provincial economies. Unfortunately, in healthcare, there are still thousands of people without a full time doctor and basic access is sadly lacking. Islandwide Hospital Access is working to help create a positive situation but unfortunately, the time is not yet.
Though Health P.E.I.’s CEO acknowledges the patient registry doesn’t work and emergency room response times need improvement, it is difficult to be positive when one has had no doctor or basic access for a decade. Since centralization became the operational ideology, administrative costs have risen from $12 million to $65 million (over three times the cost to run all rural hospitals combined.) Centralization administrative expenses rose while the population of P.E.I. remained relatively stable and basic problems remain unfixed.
IWHA has advocated for a change in leadership, management, structure and program delivery at Health P.E.I. using elected local hospital boards. Time will tell if announced HPEI changes achieve better healthcare delivery - the proof will be in the pudding. Furthermore, we strongly feel a report card of Health P.E.I.’s performance in addressing its own objectives is useful, even negative results help highlight the need for meaningful change.
In Health P.E.I. Strategic Plan 2013 – 2016, objectives included: Ensuring patient safety standards are met, embedding the philosophy of patient centered care and promoting improved health outcomes through prevention and education. Unfortunately, P.E.I. readmission rates are among the highest in the country, and non-nominated care remains the modus operandi with poor results and overall health of Islanders has not improved.
Health P.E.I. set goals to improve access and reduce wait times in priority areas; primary health care providers, mental health services, addiction services, long – term care, elective surgical services and emergency services. HPEI stated goals in efficiency; to utilize technology, improve management of bed utilization across the system and improve co-ordination of care across the continuum of health services.
Some progress was made in elective surgical services. For the most part, there has not been acceptable delivery of basic access of all other areas: People wait years for a doctor, mental health and addictions are critically inadequate, and emergency rooms have poor access. Problems exist in admission of qualified physicians to P.E.I. and with physician compensation models.
By its own measure HPEI has failed to achieve their stated objectives; centralized management and the one Island health experiment have not given better results or services to the people of P.E.I. In fact, P.E.I. has the dubious distinction of having three times the national average in administration while lacking front line resources – a continuing mismanagement of financial resources. The complacency of centralization must be replaced by a race for excellence and compassionate patient centered care that all Islanders deserve.
There is no valid reason we cannot excel in health care – elected local hospital boards are key.
- Alan E. MacPhee is chairman of Islandwide Hospital Access
June 26, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Friday, I attended a stakeholders' group for the Climate Change Mitigation Strategy. I realized I have a bunch of things mixed up about various climate change discussions and strategy and meetings. So here is a table to try to make sense of it all (mistakes and misassumptions are my own):
Despite it feeling like separate "silos", it is all good to have discussion focused on climate change.
DiverseCity -- Charlottetown, 2PM -- onward, corner of Queen and Richmond, more details: http://www.peianc.com/content/page/community_diversecity
"Help Anne Quinn Back on Her Feet Concert", 6:30PM, The Factory, 189 Kent Street, Ch'town, Admission by donation. In the past little while, Anne Quinn of the duo 'Emerald Junction' has been sidelined with back and knee injuries requiring surgery and treatments. This fundraising concert will help replace some lost income.
Bonshaw Monthly Ceilidh, 7-9PM, Bonshaw Hall, corner of TCH and Green Road, Bonshaw. Admission by donation, with proceeds to Crohn's and Colitis Chapter PEI.
June 25, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Farmers' Markets are starting to open up all over the Island. Today there is:
Summerside, 9AM-1PM (where there will be a vibrant booth on proportional representation!)
and just opening,
Stratford!, 9AM-2PM, Robert Cotton Park, off Bunbury Road.
Any thoughts about the Island and a Local Food Act -- which is being worked on to be tabled in the Fall sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, I think, could be sent anytime soon to Agriculture Minister Alan McIsaac.
Comments on any thing such as: Supporting and clearly labeling local foods in stores, local foods in Island institutions like schools and manors and hospitals, encouraging ways to process and store Island fruits and vegetables for winter consumption, etc.
If you want to read through a Local Food Act (proposed by New Brunswick Green Party MLA David Coon, but did not pass in the New Brunswick Legislature last year), go to:
June 24, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
I think Cardigan's Farmers' Market is open today and tomorrow, 10AM-2PM, but I am not 100% sure of this. (The provincial government materials on food are so thickly aimed at tourists it's hard to figure out exactly what's what.)
Perhaps we need Pauline Howard of the PEI Food Exchange to fix this.
CBC News' Kerry Campbell has looked through the Provincial Energy Strategy's second draft and wrote this summary that was on-line this week.
HST exemption on home heating oil should be phased out: report - CBC News online article by Kerry Campbell
Phasing out exemption 'in a manner that does not adversely impact low-income Islanders'
Posted on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
The P.E.I. government should phase out the provincial HST exemption on home heating oil, according to a draft of the province's new energy strategy. A second draft of the province's strategy was released this week by the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.
It says the exemption on the provincial portion of the HST on home heating oil, brought in when the province switched to the new taxation system in 2013, creates an uneven playing field when it comes to home heating, and provides an incentive to sustain the wrong kind of energy reliance.
Uneven playing field
"The intention of this reduction in taxes on oil was positive: to address the high cost of heating homes for a majority of Island residents, including low-income homeowners and renters," the report states. "However, the reality is that subsidizing oil purchases does not align with the direction we wish to go as a province. It is not sustainable, and it supports fossil fuel imports."
The report recommends phasing out the exemption, "in a manner that does not adversely impact low-income Islanders and encourages uptake of alternative heating sources."
The report suggests the province move to a direct rebate on home heating costs for low-income residents, regardless of the type of fuel used. It also includes a recommendation that the province "develop incentives for Islanders to switch from oil heat to more sustainable options."
About-face on solar energy
This second draft of the new provincial energy strategy includes specific recommendations that government offer incentives to help homeowners in the province make the switch to solar energy.
That's an about-face from the first draft of the strategy which was criticized for shying away from solar incentives out of concern an uptake in households producing their own solar electricity could increase electricity rates for those that don't.
"Solar is a renewable energy source that provides local jobs and reduces imports. Therefore, we do not want to discourage it," the revised strategy states.
Other recommendations: cars, tides and wind
Government create a new, independent "energy efficiency utility" to be responsible for reducing all types of energy consumption, rather than the current patchwork of different players responsible for reducing different types of energy usage, for example, Maritime Electric being responsible for reducing electricity consumption.
Government re-introduce incentives to encourage Islanders to purchase electric vehicles. The report says there are only 40 electric vehicles currently registered on the Island, and when the previous government incentive for hybrid vehicles was cancelled with the introduction of the HST in 2013, "sales essentially halted."
The report recommends the province develop two additional wind farms generating a combined 70 MW of power by 2025. The report says tidal power isn't currently feasible for P.E.I. It says tidal currents in the Northumberland Strait reach only 2 knots, rather than the flow speed of 4 knots required by present-day technology.
The report recommends P.E.I. begin a program of vehicle emissions testing, similar to the testing done in Ontario.
One more public consultation on the second draft of the energy strategy is scheduled for June 29, with a final report expected to be made public around the end of July.
That public consultation meeting is next Wednesday, June 29th, at 7PM, at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown.
June 23, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The incomparable Pauline Howard keeps so many balls in the air promoting access to local food on social media and organizing ventures withe PEI Food Exchange. One thing she does is keep a beautifully organized -- and alphabetized! -- list of CSAs on P.E.I. updated.
CSAs or Community Shared Agriculture programs have lots of options now, and many still have "room" for interested people to have a share in what they produce or procure. It's wonderful to see the variety.
You may remember from Sunday the YouTube clip of "The Four Tellers", and Gary Evans with the "Lawrence MacAulay and the Dalai Lama" story. The person in the story besides Lawrence and the Dalai Lama was Allan Rankin, who writes a weekly column for The Graphic newspapers. Here is his interesting column from yesterday's paper:
Our MLAs need to up their game - The Eastern Graphic "Thinking about it" column by Allan Rankin
Published on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
Following the May 2015 election of the MacLauchlan Liberal government, the Legislative Assembly met for 22 days. Since that beginning of the First Session of the new 65th General Assembly, our elected representatives have only been in their seats 36 days. Islanders must be wondering what they do the rest of the year.
The role of the MLA in Prince Edward Island has changed over the years. It wasn’t long ago that local representatives spent most of their time managing seasonal government employment. In those days of ‘social hiring’, an MLA had direct authority over who got work at the local liquor store, fish plant, or provincial park and who raked asphalt on the short patch crew.
Some MLAs hated this role, but most relished it, because it gave the rural member in particular direct political control at the district level and a good reason to get up all those mornings when the House was not sitting in Charlottetown. But social hiring, or local patronage as it’s more commonly known, also created an exploitative relationship between the elected member and constituents, whereby short-term employment was bartered for partisan political support.
The classification of hundreds of government jobs more than a decade ago greatly diminished the role of the MLA as employment agent.
So what do our elected representatives do with their time? There is constituency work of course which can be a seemingly endless affair of attending wakes and funerals, anniversaries, senior’s birthday parties, and other family and community events.
A local MLA can also be an effective advocate for a constituent attempting to access a program or service from government. I know one former Liberal MLA and cabinet minister from West Prince, not a chartered accountant, who did tax returns for local residents and who specialized in EI claims. The comparatively small size of our electoral districts and the traditional intimacy of Island politics, does give our MLAs a somewhat unique job description.
But the principal role and responsibility of the men and women we elect to represent us, is to hold the executive branch of government accountable, to examine and question and to debate and enact laws in the Legislature.
Over my career in government, I have witnessed the growing power and dominance of the executive, and the withering and reduced power of the Legislature as a place where ordinary Island voices are heard and respected.
I watched the recent spring sitting of the Legislature with sadness and astonishment. At times it resembled more of a gong show than a parliament. But it’s not only the juvenile behaviour of a few members, or the lack of decorum that troubles me. It is the overriding feeling that our democratic gift of jurisdiction is being squandered and that we are not really worthy of provincial status. For the constitutional trappings of province hood are not enough. We have to show it in our intentions and actions.
If Premier MacLauchlan wished to, he could rebalance the power shift that has taken place between the executive and legislative branches of government, and lead a reshaping and re-empowerment of the Legislature.
He could expand the parliamentary calendar and have the Legislature sit more frequently and for longer periods.
His government could put Standing Committees to better use.
Finally, he could make his government more accountable to the people of the province by promoting greater transparency, and by allowing for more independent oversight.
Premier MacLauchlan’s inability to see the difference between adding budget dollars to hire lawyers, and the creation of an independent Child Advocate responsible to the Legislature, is a prime example of what I am talking about.
Responsibility for the reforms I have outlined falls to every member, and to all political parties, however the leadership must come from government, and from the premier himself.
Many Islanders are waiting for our premier to be more than a manager, a political leader interested in more than incremental change.
No one is about to take Prince Edward Island’s gift of jurisdiction away, not just yet, but as we slide further into debt and our elected representatives fail to find solutions or chart a more sustainable path, we could very well be forced into a new political and administrative arrangement.
The old idea of Maritime union is not without its present day advocates.
Of this I am certain.
Our Legislative Assembly needs to work harder and smarter.
Attending wedding anniversaries and local community events is fine, but our MLAs need to up their game where it counts, and do a better job of addressing in a constructive and bipartisan way, the issues that imperil our future.
June 22, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Summer is here:
Today: The Charlottetown Farmers' Market opens for its first Wednesday, 9AM-2PM.
Sunday, June 26th:
Charlottetown DiverseCity Festival, all day.
Garden Party Fundraiser for the River Clyde Pageant, 3-8PM, The Mill (Restaurant) in New Glasgow; meal, music and games. $50 per person or $100 per family ($25 option without the dinner). Food is by Chef Emily Wells, and music will be provided by performers like Scott Parsons, and a band called Party Mix, which includes local MLA Brad Trivers; games and prizes, also.
The Clyde River Pageant is an outdoor theatre event taking place July 30-31st.
Even though it's the beautiful summertime, here's a little reminder that the provincial plebiscite is coming up in November:
The PEI Proportional Representation Action Team has a website -- lots on it!
screenshot from the website, with super-volunteer Karl Hengst at the Summerside Farmers' Market with an information booth
June 21, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The *second* draft of the proposed Provincial Energy Strategy came out about 5PM yesterday. The full document is about 140 pages long, and there is a shorted Recommended Action Items (eight pages) version available.
The public meeting on this second draft -- before the Dunsky consulting company goes to write the final version -- is a week from tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29th, at 7PM, at the Farm Centre.
If you are pacing yourself, that would be reading about 15 pages each day until the public meeting.
Switching to the provincial Climate Change Mitigation Strategy, which is being written by the same Dunsky company, is here on the Island collecting a first round of comments about what should be in it.
There are public meetings [tonight in Tignish (Tignish Shore Community Office, tomorrow in Summerside (Silver Fox Curling Club), next week in Charlottetown, Montague and Souris], and one meeting that I know of for "stakeholders" or interested organizations. The Citizens' Alliance has been invited to this meeting -- do you have any suggestions for us to share?
There is also an e-mail address, (will find for tomorrow).
Speaking of energy and climate change....
This website is an interactive map, of oil and gas wells in the United States, and the populations that are considered threatened by this activity.
Like many maps folks in the United States use, it appears the U.S. floats along like a giant island, but we know Canada and Mexico have activity going on, too.
It is positively eye-opening -- sheer number of wells in the US, a V along the Appalachians, down to Texas and back up northwest, is astonishing.
screenshot from the above website.
It's interactive in the sense you can focus on a particular area and get zoomed-in mapping, data and some videos. The website was formed to track pollution and is from three organizations (Earthworks, Clean Air Task Force, and FracTracker Alliance).
More info: http://oilandgasthreatmap.com/about/
The Alaskan explorer Roman Dial wrote for a recent Global Chorus essay:
"The early, exponential growth of natural communities always levels out, unless a physical force wipes it clean. Our population will obey these laws of resource consumption, no matter what the economists and politicians claim."
June 20, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Lecture: Youth Perspectives on the Environment, 7-9PM, UPEI, faculty Lounge, Main Building (near the Student Union), with Franklin Valenzuela, a youth and environmental activist from Guatemala. Mitchell Crouse from Divest UPEI will also speak. Free, but donations accepted. Facebook details here.
Farm Centre Legacy Garden potluck and gardening workshops, starting at 5PM, Legacy Garden, off 420 University Avenue. Straw bale gardening and introduction to gardening are the topics. All welcome. Facebook details here.
An update on the TransPacific Partnership trade deal and the groups concerned about it, passed on by some members of the Trade Justice PEI group:
Ottawa, June 15, 2016 -
The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade is extending the deadline for Canadians to submit written comments on the topic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Canadians who wish to provide a written submission in the context of the Committee’s TPP public consultation must do so before 23:59 EDT on October 31, 2016.
Please note that written submissions exceeding 10 pages must be accompanied by a summary of no more than 1,500 words. The Committee may decide to translate, distribute and/or publish only the summary. More information on the process for providing a written submission can be found in the Guide for Submitting Briefs to House of Commons Committees. Written submissions should be emailed to: email@example.com.
The committee will be traveling to P.E.I. and there is likely to the chance for people to appear as witnesses, but there would be a registration process well ahead of it (details I will pass on if I hear about)
These extensions and changes are very likely in response to public comments and involvement in this issue.
Speaking of public consultation, there is a short mention in today's Guardian about public consultations on the development of a Climate Change Mitigation Strategy. Like the Provincial Energy Strategy (a second draft is supposed to be released today with the ONLY public meeting on it next Wednesday, June 29th), this Climate Change Mitigation Strategy is being developed by Dunsky Consulting of Quebec, but primarily with the Department of Communities, Land and Development. These meetings are for the public to comment *before* the strategy is written, if I understand the process right.
Anyway, the times are a bit of a squashed (and the process not terribly well advertised):
screenshot from today's Guardian, page A-5
June 19, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Workshop: Identifying Native Trees and Shrubs, 2PM, Macphail Woods Ecological Project, free.Facebook event details
Tomorrow, Monday, June 20th:
Lecture: Youth Perspectives on the Environment, 7-9PM, UPEI, faculty Lounge, Main Building (near the Student Union). (Edited) from the information about the event:
Join us to welcome Franklin Valenzuela to talk about mining, the environment, and youth activism. Franklin is an 18 year old youth and environmental activist from Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, Guatemala. His family has been part of the civil society resistance to the Escobal mining project, owned by Canandian/US company Tahoe Resources. Both his father and uncle have been criminalized for their involvement.... Franklin, who is studying to be a mechanic, has emerged as a leader in his community. He is a founder and representative of Jodvid (Youth Organized in the Defense of Life), an organization created by the family and friends of Topacio Reynoso, another youth activist from his area, who was murdered in an armed attack...
We will also have the opportunity to hear from Mitchell Crouse, representative of Divest UPEI, a campaign to call upon the university to divest from fossil fuels investments.
Admission will be free, but a hat will be passed around to help cover Franklin's travel costs for those that are able to donate.
This event is presented by Breaking the Silence (BTS), the UPEI Environmental Society and Sustainability Committee, and Divest UPEI.
Also on Monday:
Farm Centre Legacy Garden Double Workshop: Straw Bale Gardening and Introduction to Gardening, 5PM (potluck), workshops about an hour later, All welcome, details here:Facebook event details
For more information on straw bale gardens visit Lisa and Marie's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/strawbalegardeningwithLisaandMarie/
And just because it is silly, here is the 7-minute YouTube from last year at the Georgetown Playhouse, of The Four Tellers (David Weale, Alan Buchanan, Gary Evans and Dennis King), with the now infamous "Lawrence MacAulay and the Dalai Lama" story:
Back to serious:
If you want to read (or just browse through!) a highly recommended book called Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path for One Hundred Percent Clean Energy, it is available free on-line here:
It is by Reichard Heinburg and David Fridley, and published by Island Press (another Island Press, this one located in the non-island of Washington, D.C.).
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1:
It is impossible to overstate the importance of energy. Without it, we can do literally nothing. Further, the unfolding consequences of modern civilization’s energy use (including climate change), together with the inevitable energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables, will be the defining trends of the current century. How we address the climate–energy dilemma will make a life-or-death difference for current and future generations of humans, and for countless other species.
And there are eleven readable chapters. The book could also be purchased as an e-book or print, but it is on-line free to get the ideas across in an accessible manner. Thanks to Tony Reddin, one of the best Father Earths I can think of, for sending it my way.
Happy Father's Day!
June 18, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside (9AM-1PM), Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Cardigan (10AM-2PM) today. (I forgot to mention that Cardigan Farmers' Market is also open on Fridays.)
Donation Drive for Pride PEI Fundraiser via Value Village, 9AM-6PM, Value Village side door (on Pond Street, by the PC Party office).
I know there are concerns about how much ValueVillage charges for items and how much they give to the organization, but If you are decluttering and want to get rid of some items, here is an opportunity to help out a local group in a small way.
Saorirse Farms Open House, 1-4PM, 3159 Brothers Road (Rte. 320), on the way to Montague. Farm tour, farm animals, can order locally raised food. This is NDP leader Mike Redmond's family operation.
Brad Trivers, MLA for District 18 (Rustico-Emerald) and Opposition Critic for Communities, Land and Environment, has a thoughtful blog piece about what should be in a provincial Local Food Act. http://bradtrivers.com/2016/06/local-food-act-input/
And keeping in mind Local Food really involves Local Food Security, here are excellent points:
To be clear, food security is not just about making good food affordable for all Islanders, but making sure that our Island food supply can sustain itself regardless of what is happening off-Island. It is important to reduce food dependency on off-Island sources to avoid price fluctuations, and supply interruption. This is why initiatives like supply management are important.
Supply management for areas of the food supply that are not covered should be considered. In the near future (within a decade) it is my belief that affordable distributed power storage will make it feasible for almost 100% of our food supply to come from on-Island, and the Act should take this into account.
This is not quite a month old, and long, but I still very much worth sharing:
Vandana Shiva: Small Farmers Are Foundation to Food Security, Not Corporations Like Monsanto - Ecowatch online article by Dr. Vandana Shiva
Published on-line at ECOWatch on Monday, May 23rd, 2016
May 22 has been declared International Biodiversity Day by the United Nations. It gives us an opportunity to become aware of the rich biodiversity that has been evolved by our farmers as co-creators with nature. It also provides an opportunity to acknowledge the threats to our biodiversity and our rights from IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) monopolies and monocultures.
Just as our Vedas and Upanishads have no individual authors, our rich biodiversity, including seeds, have been evolved cumulatively. They are a common heritage of present and future farm communities who have evolved them collectively. I recently joined tribals in Central India who have evolved thousands of rice varieties for their festival of “Akti.” Akti is a celebration of the relationship of the seed and the soil and the sharing of the seed as a sacred duty to the Earth and the community.
In addition to learning about seeds from women and peasants, I had the honor to participate and contribute to international and national laws on biodiversity. I worked closely with our government in the run-up to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, when the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) was adopted by the international community. Three key commitments in the CBD are protection of the sovereign rights of countries to their biodiversity, the traditional knowledge of communities and biosafety in the context of genetically-modified foods.
The UN appointed me on the expert panel for the framework for the biosafety protocol, now adopted as the Cartagena protocol on biosafety. I was appointed a member of the expert group to draft the National Biodiversity Act, as well as the Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act. We ensured that farmers rights are recognized in our laws. “A farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce, including seed of a variety protected under this act, in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into force of this act”, it says.
We have worked for the past three decades to protect the diversity and integrity of our seeds, the rights of farmers and resist and challenge the illegitimate IPR monopolies of companies like Monsanto which do genetic engineering to claim patents and royalties.
Patents on seeds are unjust and unjustified. A patent or any intellectual property right (IPR) is a monopoly granted by society in exchange for benefits. But society has no benefit in toxic, non-renewable seeds. We are losing biodiversity and cultural diversity, we are losing nutrition, taste and quality of our food. Above all, we are losing our fundamental freedom to decide what seeds we will sow, how we will grow our food and what we will eat.
Seed as a common good has become a commodity of private seed companies. Unless protected and put back in the hands of our farmers, it is at risk of being lost forever.
Across the world, communities are saving and exchanging seeds in diverse ways, appropriate to their context. They are creating and recreating freedom—for the seed, for seed keepers and for all life and all people. When we save the seed, we also reclaim and rejuvenate knowledge—the knowledge of breeding and conservation, the knowledge of food and farming. Uniformity as a pseudo-scientific measure has been used to establish unjust IPR monopolies on seed. Once a company has patents on seeds, it pushes its patented crops on farmers in order to collect royalties.
Humanity has been eating thousands and thousands (8,500) of plant species. Today we are being condemned to eat GM corn and soya in various forms. Four primary crops—corn, soya, canola and cotton—have all been grown at the cost of other crops because they generate a royalty for every acre planted. For example, India had 1,500 different kinds of cotton, now 95 percent of the cotton planted is GMO Bt Cotton for which Monsanto collects royalties. More than 11 million hectares of land are used to cultivate cotton, of which 9.5 million hectares is used to grow Monsanto’s Bt variety.
A common question is: Why do farmers adopt Bt cotton which harms them? But farmers do not choose Bt cotton. They have to buy Bt cotton as all other choices are destroyed. Monsanto establishes its seed monopoly through three mechanisms:
1. Make farmers give up old seed, called “seed replacement” in industry jargon.
2. Influence public institutions to stop breeding. According to information received through RTI, the Central Cotton Research Institute did not release cotton varieties for Vidharba after Monsanto entered with its Bt cotton seeds.
3. Lock Indian companies into licensing agreements.
These coercive, corrupt mechanisms are now falling apart. Navdanya created community seed banks and farmers have access to open pollinated, native organic seeds. The CCIR, under the leadership of Dr. Keshav Kranti, is developing native cotton varieties. Finally, the government also intervened to regulate Monsanto’s monopoly. On March 8, it passed a seed price control order regulating the price of seed under the Essential Commodities Act.
Monsanto and the biotechnology industry challenged the government order. We were impleaded in the Karnataka high court. On May 3, Justice Bopanna gave an order reaffirming that the government has a duty to regulate seed prices and Monsanto does not have a right to seed monopoly. Biodiversity and small farmers are the foundation of food security, not corporations like Monsanto which are destroying biodiversity and pushing farmers to suicide. These crimes against humanity must stop. That is why on Oct. 16, International Food Day, we will organize a Monsanto Tribunal at The Hague to “try” Monsanto for its various crimes.
June 17, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A few events coming up:
Confederation Forest tree planting, Morell, 10AM-3PM, 1628 Bangor Road (Rte#321), all welcome.
The Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project, with support from the Island Nature Trust, will continue work on a new four-hectare Acadian forest that was begun in 2014. Volunteers will be planting native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns such as red oak, white ash, witch hazel, wild rose, swamp milkweed and blue flag iris. Throughout the day, Macphail Woods staff will be teaching best planting practices, offering pruning tips and helping with identification. Be prepared to get your hands dirty. More information and a map <www.macphailwoods.org>, on Facebook, or call 651-2575.
Tomorrow, Saturday, June 18th:
Let Them Eat Cake (fundraiser for Rock Barra Artists' Retreat), 6:30PM onward, Haviland Club, 2 Haviland Street, tickets $15.
Music (Teresa Doyle, Todd MacLean, Jon Rehder, and others), cake parade and auction.
Sunday, June 19th:
Learning about Native Trees and Shrubs--Macphail Woods Ecological Centre, 2-4PM, Orwell, free. A short presentation and then a guided walk.
Wednesday, June 29th:
Provincial Energy Strategy, Public Consultation on second draft, 7-10PM, Farm Centre.
Mark your calendar to come hear about and comment on priorities for how we power and heat our homes and businesses, and about energy and travel, in light of climate change and P.E.I.'s unique position as a small Island.
This was the main editorial in Wednesday's Guardian. The paper has been showing a bolder tone in its criticism on issues; and but for the ln concluding paragraph, this one reminds a lot of us how much the media has to learn about the facets of electoral reform.
A more equal playing field - The Guardian Main Editorial
Published on Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Success in politics is usually measured by winning. It’s considered a good thing, at least for the winners. Even that is under added scrutiny and criticism of late.
A majority government is now politically incorrect. Third parties usually don’t get their candidates elected in this situation and we are often left with a weak Opposition. Third parties warmly support electoral reform because it offers them a better chance of having a strong voice in legislatures. Reform should reduce majorities, increase minorities and goes a long way to ensure that every vote counts. And is heard.
Winning elections depends on fundraising. Having money in the campaign war chest is usually the sign of a vibrant and successful political party. A party in power naturally tends to have more success raising money. It makes sense that companies and individuals are more apt to support a party with a chance to win.
When a P.E.I. party with more than 20 elected MLAs goes into an election, why are some people surprised when it attracts a lot of donations? Electoral success suggests that many voters are supportive or happy with the government.
But we must have critics.
Our system has served democracy fairly well to date. The province and country have survived. Our freedoms aren’t threatened by coups. But things evolve, progress and hopefully improve.
This fall, major changes are coming affecting political donations. Fundraising amounts released recently will perhaps be the last time we’ll see anything like them. The amounts were for 2015 – a provincial and federal election year. Totals would naturally be higher than usual.
The governing Liberals raised almost $871,000 while the Progressive Conservatives grabbed close to $488,000. The NDP ($76,836) and Greens ($23,843), although far back, still raised historic highs. It shows that Islanders are interested in politics and want to see our current political system thrive.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan probably cringed at the newspaper headline “Liberal Party rolling in dough.” It would suggest that the rich get richer and that law firms and corporate donors are buying influence and favour. But that was their decision. Where and how they want to spend their money is their business. The law allows it. To suggest elected MLAs are in the pockets of big business insults the honesty and integrity of P.E.I.’s politicians.
If campaigns suffer or the numbers of candidates decline because of fundraising reform, what will critics have to say then? Is there a danger of a less effective government and less effective Opposition? Campaign reforms should bring parties closer together in terms of dollars raised. Those reforms include limiting personal donations and banning corporations and unions from making contributions. Individual donations will likely increase but it won't make up for those banned corporate cheques. Legislation will likely have to provide matching taxpayers’ funds for each vote cast.
This pending legislation will help level the playing field. And if the November electoral reform plebiscite succeeds, it will make it even more so.
June 16, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Congratulations to the three Order of Prince Edward Island recipients announced yesterday.
Dr. Dagny Dryer of Little Sands is known for her tireless working for cancer patients on the Island. She is currently on the Board of Health PEI.
Carolyn Batement of Charlottetown is a family and autism advocate.
Keptin John Joe Sark of Johnston's River clarified on social media (since some media have gotten it inaccurately) that he represents the Mi'kmaq Grand Council for the District of Epekwitk PEI, as well as the whole Mi'kmaq Nation, on the Mi'kmaq Grand Council. He writes, "It is a great job, and a lot of work to fight for our rights nationally, internationally as well as for our own districts, without any pay , but the satisfaction lies in the fact that our voluntary contribution have helped a lot of Indigenous people all across Canada, and the world."
A photo of the Keptin:
From October 8th, 2012, Keptin John Joe Sark giving a blessing during a smudging ceremony, at Hemlock Grove, along the then-proposed Plan B cut, Churchill, P.E.I. Sorry for the darkness of the image.
The Order of Prince Edward Island award ceremony will be in September. The Order of P.E.I. lost a bit of its lustre to some when former Premier Ghiz ignored the rules of application to announce he was giving it to sports champion Heather Moyse, and then proposed legislation to change the rules.
Back to Health PEI's recent appointments, first by Graphic columnist Allan Rankin, and then by Leah-Jane Hayward of North Wiltshire.
A big Liberal gets a big appointment - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin
Published on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
The recent appointment of Prince County businessman and former potato farmer Warren Ellis to the Board of Health PEI is an affront to any Islander who cares about the environmental health of their province, and a reward to one of the Liberal Party’s most faithful contributors and local organizers.
Mr Ellis is what you call a big Liberal, active in numerous political campaigns over the years and a political ally of the current Minister of Health and Wellness, Robert Henderson. Until a few years ago, Warren Ellis owned and operated a large potato farm at Mount Royal, near O’Leary, financed along with his car dealership in Summerside, in part with low interest loans from the provincial government.
The province had loaned $3.7 million to Warren Ellis Produce.
At a time when small local businesses across the Island struggled to secure investment and financing from the banks, it is astonishing to me that the Provincial Treasury, considered the bank of last resort, would have loaned money to a car dealership.
But then again, there are mysteries and unexplained events in the backrooms of government. Mr Ellis sold his potato operation and got out of farming in 2013-14, and at the time questions were raised by the Conservative Opposition about the repayment of his provincial loan debt.
But it’s not really Mr Ellis’s longstanding party loyalties that bother me, or even his financial dealings with government, although it all should be put under a microscope in my view.
What nauseates me, and what I believe makes Warren Ellis unqualified to sit on the Board of Health PEI, is his terrible record of environmental stewardship as a farmer, and his careless use of agricultural pesticides which resulted in a major fish kill and poisoning of the Trout River Watershed in 2012.
The Trout River was once regarded as one of the best trout and salmon rivers in the province. Mr Ellis was subsequently charged under the federal Fisheries Act, found guilty, and fined $70,000 for his negligent behaviour. He managed to escape conviction on several charges under the provincial Environmental Protection Act, but was found guilty of one charge under the provincial Crop Rotation Act.
Put Simply, Mr Ellis is a polluter, and his pesticide runoff and poor farming practises did major damage to our natural environment, a priceless resource which all of us own and have responsibility to conserve and protect.
With the growth of corporate agriculture and potato monoculture in particular, Prince Edward Island has become a toxic stew pot of pesticides and other chemicals, threatening not only our rivers and aquatic life, but also human health.
The incidence rate of cancer for Island men is among the highest in the country, 13% higher than the national average, and women have the second highest cancer mortality rate, 12% higher than the rest of Canada.
These are statistics that should be screaming out for answers. But our government doesn’t want us to make any connection between agricultural chemical use and the staggering rates of cancers on the Island.
Instead, Islanders are preached to constantly about the economic importance of the Island potato industry, and the necessity of using pesticides in order “to grow high quality potatoes for consumers.” The potato industry is a powerful lobby group, and typically potato farmers and processors exercise a great deal of influence around the cabinet table, led in the present cabinet by Ministers Henderson and McIsaac, together with the premier and his chief of staff, former potato farmer Robert Vessey.
The authority for appointment of individuals to most provincial agencies, boards, and commissions rests with cabinet, on the recommendation of a particular minister. When it comes to Health PEI however, the public board which arguably has the greatest impact on the daily lives of Islanders, the authority to appoint is the minister’s alone under the provisions of the Health Services Act.
That is how Warren Ellis was appointed to Health PEI. His old political friend Minister Henderson whom he helped get elected drew his name from a box containing, that’s right, one name. Islanders might be left wondering about the other prospective, eligible Health PEI board candidates, and their respective backgrounds and qualifications. <See Leah-Jane's letter, below>
In his introductory message to Health PEI’s Cancer Strategy 2016-2019: Let’s Make a Difference, Minister Henderson says , “Government is committed to reducing cancer” in the province, and one of the strategy’s stated priorities is to “improve prevention”. Buried in the strategy’s objectives is the commitment to reduce “exposure to environmental and occupational carcinogens.”
As the drift from sprayers wafts over rural school grounds and our air and ground water, not to mention our rivers, continues to be poisoned, it might be a good idea to take a serious scientific look at the human health effects of pesticide use on the Island, and for once put the interests of all Islanders ahead of the potato industry.
One of Health PEI’s more distinguished and eminently qualified directors is retired medical oncologist Dr Dagny (Dryer) Rossignol. I can only imagine the cancer strategy discussions that will take place between she and Warren Ellis, and his fellow appointee Blaine MacPherson, who until recently was the vice president of Agricultural Services for Cavendish Farms.
I wonder whose viewpoint will carry the most weight and influence.
And to answer the question of any other applicants for the Health PEI board vacancies -- http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-06-15/article-4560559/What-was-missing-in-application-for-P.E.I.-Health-Board-position%3F/1
What was missing in application for P.E.I. Health Board position? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
The two recent appointments to the P.E.I. Health Board have caused a great deal of concern with many Islanders. There are concerns about the process and the qualifications of the two individuals. We are told the gentlemen applied by contacting Engage P.E.I.
Last fall, I also applied for a position with the Health board by application to Engage P.E.I. My qualifications? Thirteen years as care giver to my husband. Through this, I spent a great deal of time in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the VG in Halifax, the George Dumont in Moncton and the Saint John Regional.
I was able to observe the day-to-day workings of the health system. I also spoke to many staff and patients in these various hospitals.
Having run a family business for 29 years gave me some financial background.
Along with my life experiences in other areas, I felt I was a worthy candidate.
Wonder what they have to contribute that I was lacking?
June 15, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tomorrow, Thursday, June 16th:
Seed Saving Workshop, 6:30PM, Confederation Centre Public Library, sponsored by the Cooper Institute, free.
Great talk and demostration if you are already a seed-saver or just curious!
The following opinion piece was also published in The Guardian last week, also. It will be very good to see the changes in financing proposed by the current government.
LETTER TO EDITOR: Time to separate corporate interests and government - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor
Published on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
It is time to put an end to what has been a long pattern of corporate influence in Island politics.
Given the fact that P.E.I. is Canada’s smallest jurisdiction, and therefore the influence of money is felt particularly strongly, it’s absolutely essential that corporate interests and government have definitive boundaries, and that’s not what we are seeing.
The recent appointments of Warren Ellis and Blaine MacPherson to the board of Health P.E.I. are yet another example of the profound influence corporations can have within the current government. Mr. MacPherson, as vice-president of Cavendish Farms, lobbied the government recently to lift the moratorium on high capacity wells. Warren Ellis has been the recipient of substantial government loans during his time as a potato producer and is well known for his charges under the Federal Fisheries Act as well as the Provincial Crop Rotation Act, receiving the highest fines ever awarded under these acts on P.E.I.
Governing is difficult, and governments must make hard decisions all the time. In accepting large sums of money from special interest groups, those decisions are made even more complex. Whether in reality or perception, governments put themselves in a situation where their ultimate decisions will be viewed as tainted, which should come as no surprise to our elected officials.
With several key decisions slated to be made in the coming months and years on issues where corporate and public interests are at odds, these appointments are a particularly poor choice.
If we are ever to restore faith in politics, governments must consistently show Islanders that public interest, not corporate interest, is always put first. Perception is reality in many ways, and the perception of Islanders is that corporations have too much influence in Island politics.
Green Party of P.E.I.
From the June 15th Global Chorus, from journalist Will Potter:
<snip> "Our path forward must involve a concrete response to unsustainable lifestyles and an economic system driven by greed – for together they have created a culture of death. "In order to do that, we are going to have to remind ourselves and each other of something whenever we feel that darkness begin to creep: we are not alone." -- Will Potter
June 14, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Charlottetown City Council, by 5-4 vote, approved a cosmetic pesticide ban bylaw for first and second reading. More details in local media.
PEI Vigil for Orlando LGBTQ Massacre, 8-9PM, Trinity United Church, 220 Richmond Street, Charlottetown.
Friday, June 17th:
Confederation Forest Tree Planting -- Morell area, 10AM-3PM, Bangor Road near Morell. Come anytime (bring your own boots and gloves) and help plant trees, shrubs and wildflowers.
More details at: http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events
Sunday, June 19th:
Workshop: Learning about Native Trees and Shrubs, 2PM, Macphail Woods, Orwell. More details at Citizens' Alliance website link, above.
Andy Walker is the editor of Island Farmer newspaper, published by Paul MacNeill of the Graphic newspapers. He also writes about various issues for other publications.
Here is a photo from a recent Journal-Pioneer (TransContinental publication, the same as The Guardian), where he analyzes a recent political approval ratings poll:
Keeping in mind the popular vote from the May 2015 provincial election (here) would remind any commentators that translating popular vote into seats is more likely to happen under some sort of proportional representation.
June 13, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Charlottetown City Council regular meeting, 4:30PM, Charlottetown City Hall (corner of Queen and Kent, second floor). A revised cosmetic pesticide bylaw is on the agenda to be voted on. All are welcome to come and show support.
On Friday, I attended the NDP-PEI's biennial Hilda Ramsay fundraising dinner, with guest speaker MP Niki Ashton (Churchill-Keewatinook Aski). (A kind neighbour had an extra ticket.) Ms. Ashton gave a great talk about women in politics and about issues facing Canadian women -- how poverty affects more women, therefore affecting more children, pay inequity, etc. Aleida Tweeten paid tribute to the amazing Jane Dunphy, a tireless supporter of the NDP who passed away earlier this year. It was a lovely event and, while partisan of course in some respects, very welcoming to everyone there. There were silent auction items and a live auction of a gorgeous quilt (a twisted log cabin design), and a knitted Tommy Douglas doll, which did end up going home with Niki Ashton.
Hilda Ramsay, for those who don't know this, was the first Island woman to run for a seat in the P.E.I. Legislature, in 1951, I think for the precursor to the NDP, the CCF. (The first women elected was Jean Canfield a few years later.) Hilda was also extremely active in the PEI Women's Institute. The funds raised from the dinner and auction items help women provincial candidates, and the witty emcee Leah-Jane Hayward described how the funds helped her immensely in her campaign last year (for District 18: Rustico-Emerald) to offset gas cost to travel around the District.
From the anthology Global Chorus, the June 13th essay:
Sylvia Earle is a 76-year old American ocean explorer, who founded Mission Blue after being awarded a TED Prize in 2009.
She urges people to use all means at one's disposal to campaign to "ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas" -- more at:
<snip> "...Even luckier will be those that follow, if our knowing leads to caring, and caring inspires actions to secure an enduring place for humankind within the living systems that make our lives possible." --Sylvia Earle
June 12, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Still time to reverse decision in P.E.I. Health Board appointments - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Walter Wilkins
Published on Saturday, June 11th, 2016
Maureen Kerr's guest opinion published in The Guardian (June 7) raises a powerful question: How can we trust a government-initiated consultation process if we can't trust those who are appointed to control the consultation?
Interestingly, what makes Ms. Kerr's point even more of a problem is the very "backroom bureaucracy" to which she draws our attention. If she is correct, her call for relevant background data on people appointed to government formed decision making bodies prior to their appointment will not happen. Why? Well, it's because she's correct; there's a backroom bureaucracy that works against the interest of the public.
Time and again we see the authenticity of public consultation and policy formation undermined by the very people appointed to the process. Yes, they are appointed because of their skills. Unfortunately, their skills are not tied to procedural fairness and authentic consultation.
Rather, their skills are actually, or are perceived to be, tied to pre-formulated interests. From a public perspective, it's not the consultation process that's being secured, it's the results already established before the consultation even begins. It all leaves the general population in a state of perceived helplessness, which forces us to ask a question: Is that the goal?
Which leads to an even larger question: Is there hope?
Well, the lasting gift of Plan B is that a light was flashed on a perfect example of what inauthentic consultation on Prince Edward Island looks like. It continues to motivate people to call foul, to construct social media sites and to develop newsletters. Lighting these candles in the dark has begun to shed more light on the political inbreeding that continues to give birth to inauthentic consultation.
As well, the fact that mainstream media like The Guardian published Ms. Kerr's opinion piece provides further evidence that attempts are being made to acknowledge and validate the problems. It ain't pretty, but for small mercies we should be grateful.
What Islanders should not be so grateful for is the invisibility of Premier MacLauchlan's promise of transparency; I'm starting to fear that our leader doesn't know what procedural fairness and its necessary feature - transparency - actually looks like. Or, should our greater fear be that he knows exactly what it looks like, and he just doesn't care?
There's still time for Premier MacLauchlan to find the courage, repair the damage and make things right; in that, there's hope.
- Walter Wilkins of Stratford is a retired education management consultant
June 11, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
In addition to farmers' markets being open in Charlottetown and Summerside, today is the first day of the Cardigan Farmers' Market, 10AM-2PM, at the old train station, I believe.
It would be fun for people to get to all the markets on the Island this summer.
Stratford's Farmers' Market, at Robert Cotton park, will open on the 25th of June.
More and more greens are available, and rhubarb and perhaps asparagus. Plus nicely stored potatoes and cabbages and apples, and of course breads and other wonderful locally made items.
South shore resident(and amazing volunteer) Fran Albrecht has been compiling a list called "Island Routes: Islanders Supporting Islanders", with lists of products and services available in different areas of the province.
It's about nine pages long, so I have placed it in the "Files" section of the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.'s Facebook page, and at this link on the CA website:
And I can send it as a "Word" document attachment to you -- just ask.
What a great initiative and a big thanks to Fran!
The P.E.I. Certified Organic Producers Co-operative (COPC) is helping coordinate public input for the Department of Agriculture to consider in writing a P.E.I. Local Food Act, due to come to the provincial legislature this fall, as I think I have mentioned once.
It sounds like the group is meeting with folks from the department later this month.
Here is the link from the COPC with some background on the proposed legislation and a link to the survey
June 10, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today is the last day to comment on the first draft of the energy strategy, as the consultant company working on the strategy go over comments, and get ready to send the second draft back to Islanders. (The public meeting on that second draft is scheduled for Wednesday, June 29th.)
The Public Input page in found through the website, here:
An acquaintance in media indicated energy stories -- unless the angle is high prices for consumers -- are very hard to get behind to tell. The Energy Corporation has a bit of an on-line presence with its website and some social media, but if the traditional media isn't especially curious, just sending a press release to that media and putting one ad in the paper isn't really going to engage anyone who's not already interested in the matter. Of course, this likely results in fewer comments to have to go through.
Here was the print ad, the only one I ever saw on this whole first process, from Monday, May 30th, 2016:
screenshot from The Guardian, Monday, May 30th, 2016
So if you have comments, such as:
the importance of meeting our climate change targets
efficiency/reduction in energy use is paramount
total renewable energy by 2050,
improving the section on solar energy (as one person commented that the electric grid should be distributed, use "smart" technology, encourage renewables, and provide incentives to improve the uptake of solar, (and of electric vehicles, for that matter).
wanting to see emphasis on smaller, economical, more diversified Island-wide public transportation
factoring our scant and fragile forests in any sort of (wood) biomass or wood pellets
factoring the cost of energy invested per unit of energy produced for wood biomass and wood pellets.
remembering that P.E.I. is small and that is our strength -- one size does not fit all
then feel free to send *any* comments to the input page on the
or e-mail <PEIEnergyStrategy@gov.pe.ca> today.
OK, climbing down from that soapbox!
June 9, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some events coming up:
Seed-saving: Roguing and Selection, 6:30PM, Montague Rotary Library, free. Facebook details here.
Sunday, June 12th:
Water, Land and Wildlife, with Bob Bancroft, 2PM, Macphail Woods Ecological Centre, free. Wonderful biologist giving what will undoubtedly be a thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated talk.
Spurred on by the approval of selling genetically-modified fish without requiring labeling for consumers, here is a petition by an Ontario woman on Change.org
Apparently, these links don't work all the time, so you may have to google change.org and labelling GMO food.
Today's main editorial in The Guardian is about "fumbling" the recent appointments to the ABCs (agencies, boards and commissions), which I can share tomorrow.
This comment from Island marine biologist Irene Novaczek on social media yesterday sums things up:
You don't need specific health credentials to serve on a heath board, but you should NOT be a significant contributor to the ruling government party coffers, or represent a sector that is known or widely suspected of having a vested interest in activities that contribute to public ill health. That is a bare minimum standard for establishing public trust in "citizen-led" decision-making. --by Irene Novaczek, June 8th
A good op-ed piece about the provincial energy strategy's lack of recognition of the part small-scale solar projects would contribute to reducing greenhouse gases and stimulating the economy:
published on Saturday, June 4th, 2016, in The Guardian
Solar energy pushed into background? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Steve Howard
The draft strategy released last week has drawn disapproval from industry leaders due to a notable absence of new incentives for distributed solar. While job creation and import substitution are acknowledged in the strategy, these considerations aren’t taken into account regarding solar.
The overarching indication is that an uptake in solar would, through net metering, create a burden on the rest of ratepayers. While this concern may appear justified, (Maritime pays 8.5 cents for power and credits 13.5 cents to the net metered customer), only looking at it through this lens is short sighted.
If, for example, you consider the REC's or GHG credits that the utility could be accumulating and selling to New England, the removal of the transmission losses by creating power on site (15 per cent losses according to Maritime Electric), the social benefit (solar employs many locals in full time, well paying positions), the environmental costs avoided by using renewables (estimated at $80 per tonne of CO2 avoided) and the avoided costs of running peak generators during the summer cooling months (solar makes power when air conditioners are on full blast) the net effect is easily a benefit to all ratepayers, Maritime Electric, unemployed Islanders and the planet in general....all at little to no cost, or even a negative cost.
The lost opportunity for P.E.I. is significant. Even a small incentive such as a 10 per cent rebate (net revenue neutral for the province as they collect 10 per cent HST) would provide leadership from government to encourage the switch from traditional sources of energy to solar.
Optionally, or rather additionally, paying for all excess solar power at full retail rates has all of the same benefits as offsetting our own power so why not encourage it if it is a net benefit to the grid and all other ratepayers and Islanders. Both benefits help create jobs, create export opportunities (REC's/GHG credit’s), offer import substitution (less power from the mainland), and move us towards the goals set by both our federal (Paris Agreement) and provincial (recommendation of 100 per cent renewables by 2050) governments as well as echo the popular sentiment from public input thus far.
Now is the time to send in your comments via http://www.peiec.ca/provide-input1.html.
This is still a draft, and feedback is encouraged.
- Steve Howard represents Renewable Lifestyles Ltd, Travellers Rest, P.E.I.
Tomorrow is the last day to submit feedback on the *first* draft. See their website here: http://www.peiec.ca/
June 8, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Here are some dates coming up:
Today, Wednesday, June 8th:
Orwell: Introduction of Seed Saving Workshop, 7PM, Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead, Orwell, with Josie Baker. Free. "Josie Baker of Cooper Institute coordinates the Seeds of Community project and supports local farmers with the PEI Seed Alliance. She is an avid vegetable gardener, and is passionate about local community engagement in global issues." Very accurate!
Thursday, June 9th:
Montague: Seed Saving: Rogueing and Selection, 6:30PM, Montague Rotary Library, free. Learn how to select seeds so you will be ready for seed-saving this fall. With Josie Baker and gardener and musician Teresa Doyle.
Friday, June 10th:
Last day to give input on first draft of energy strategy. Send any comments to PEIEnergyStrategy@gov.pe.ca or go to their website:
A recent CBC article failed to mention the public input date in their recent article on solar energy -- the spokesperson for the Energy Corporation fails to mention it, too. But comments are open until presumably the end of business Friday, and a second draft to be released in a week or so.
More on solar tomorrow.
Monday, June 13th:
Charlottetown City Council meeting, 4:30PM, Town Hall,
from city resident Ron Kelly's social media post, with permission:
Those in support of a pesticide bylaw for Charlottetown should take note that a new version of the bylaw -- modeled on the Stratford bylaw -- will be introduced at the next monthly meeting of the Charlottetown City Council. That meeting is slated for next Monday, June 13, at 4:30 p.m. in city hall chambers at the corner of Queen and Kent Streets. All evidence suggests that this version of the bylaw has the required support among city councillors to bring it into effect but it would certainly be helpful to those backing the bylaw to see a good turnout of supporters at this meeting. Positive, respectful support would provide a boost to those voting in favour and an encouraging sign to any councillors who might have any doubts about the bylaw.
Concern about recent appointments to the Health P.E.I. Board have resulted in a few letters to the editor and opinion pieces, a couple of Island media stories (one here), a petition calling for both men to be removed, and this letter, by Maureen Kerr with support of some Island organizations, including the Citizens' Alliance.
P.E.I. Health Board appointments threaten health policy? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Maureen Kerr
Published on Tuesday, June 9th, 2016
Open Letter to Premier Wade MacLauchlan:
During your election campaign Islanders heard the word “transparency” and were told, “This is not how I do business” over and over again. You spoke of improving conflict of interest rules and forming an ethical and accountable government.
To your credit, you have struck numerous committees to allow Islanders to let their voices be heard on a number of issues. This public discourse is crucial in order to move forward to creating an economically and environmentally sustainable P.E.I.
But it is only meaningful if the intentions on the part of the government are genuine. In other words, when the government wants to follow the wishes of Islanders and what they believe is best.
When we see appointments like those to the P.E.I. Health Board last week, of Warren Ellis and Blaine MacPherson, we see transparency, but obviously not the sort you had campaigned on.
Warren Ellis, a well-known Island figure has pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to fish kills resulting from pesticide runoff in western P.E.I. He is also on record for $3.7 million in loans from the province, shortly afterwards selling his farming operations. Over the past two years he and his family have donated significant funds to the Liberal Party of P.E.I.
Blaine MacPherson, former company vice president of agricultural affairs for Cavendish Farms, has been adamantly pushing for high capacity wells since the request for lifting the moratorium was submitted.
We request that these appointments be revoked for the following reasons:
-- Both strongly support industrial agriculture production with its heavy reliance on pesticides and chemical fertilizers which poses serious health problems to people and the environment;
-- Both Ellis and MacPherson have strong connections to the potato industry, which has been lobbying diligently to convince Islanders that we need high capacity wells. This is a clear conflict of interest.
-- Ellis’ financial relationship with the province is controversial and surely qualifies as a conflict of interest.
Given the report published in late 2015 “Pesticides and Human Health” where our Chief Public Health Office made the claim that pesticides did not pose significant health risk to Islanders, there does look to be a method to the madness of these appointments. It seems to us very short-sighted, not to mention the antithesis of sound human health policy to promote messages that pesticides and high capacity wells are the way forward. That is precisely what these two board appointments serve to do.
In addition to revoking these appointments, we would like clarification on the present state of Ellis’ debt to the province. Has this money been repaid in full?
We also request information on the number and qualifications of other applicants for these two seats. Clearly, we have many more highly qualified people willing and capable of influencing decisions made with regard to our health.
- Maureen Kerr, on behalf of Pesticide Free P.E.I., P.E.I. Environmental Health Co-operative and Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I.
June 7, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
BBQ and workshop on gardening using straw bales, 5PM, Farm Centre Legacy Garden, 420 University Ave., free. Facebook event details
Join us...for a potluck BBQ super, followed by a workshop on the 5 W's of Straw Bale Gardening! Lisa and Marie will be on hand to answer any questions afterwards! This workshop is open to the public, and we hope to see some familiar faces there! Please share :) Thanks everyone!
Voluntary Resource Centre (VRC) Potluck and AGM, 5PM, Central Christian Church, 223 Kent St. If you are interested in finding out more about the wonderful stuff the VRC does and the great people who keep it going, bring some food to share and attend. Beth Lassaline from Fusion Charlottetown will be the guest speaker.
The provincial Liberal government has mentioned tabling a local food act in the Fall sitting of the Legislature, which will start November 15th, 2016.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is apparently working on it now. You can give your thoughts for what should be included in it by either e-mailing the Minister of Agriculture, J. Alan McIsaac (firstname.lastname@example.org) or perhaps (if the link works) by filling out this survey from the PEI Certified Organic Producers Co-operative.
Link to Google docs PEI Local Food Act Input
There has been discussion about this since the MacLauchlan government was first elected. In the first sitting, MLA Peter Bevan-Baker (District 17:Kellys Cross-Cumberland and Leader of the Third Party) made the point about local food versus locally purchased food (for example, the difference between buying locally grown food for children's school snacks versus buying Fruit Loops at the local store).
On the frenetic, final day of this Spring Sitting, May 13th, MLA Brad Trivers (District 18: Rustico-Emerald) brought up a lot of the issues over tendering contracts and stipulations that favour large off-Island companies. Tourism and Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald defended the tenders as the law, and Education (and former Health) Minister Doug Currie mentioned the Atlantic Procurement Agreement and admitted that it would cost more (to buy certain local foods). He turned it into the argument of tough government economic choices: how to find money for more autism services, or shingles vaccines (both initiatives the Opposition had brought up during the sitting).
Speaking of hard government economic choices, there is the image that after the Legislature ends, all the ministers drive away in their government-funded (and gasoline-combustion engine) cars which can be worth up to $40,000, if that's still accurate.
The discussion on the last day in the Legislature is here in the record of Debates, Hansard, about page 1342.
An installment of a special report on the "House of Irving" on the Irvings' influence in New Brunswick has been published by Bruce Livesey in the independent The National Observer yesterday:
Here is the link:
<snip> Back in New Brunswick, the Irvings are at centre of a host of scandals – including the firing of the province’s chief medical officer, potential shale gas development, tax concessions wrung from the city of Saint John and a controversial forestry strategy agreement. Rob Moir, an economist at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, says some “talk about the Stockholm syndrome” when it comes to the relationship with the Irvings and the province. “Others even go farther and talk about the 'captured state'. I don't think you're far-off when you talk about a fiefdom… We are at the center of corporatism in Canada: We are corporatism run amok.”
(J.D. Irving disagrees with this view, pointing instead to their long history of creating “good paying jobs with wages that are substantially above the provincial average” and remain devoted to staying in New Brunswick despite other non-Irving business quitting the province.)
But as his company grew, KC (Irving) pressured municipal, provincial and even federal governments. During the 1960s, he went to war with Liberal premier Louis Robichaud, who was attempting to modernize New Brunswick's infrastructure and tax code and encourage more competition in the economy (decades later when Robichaud died, the Irvings admitted they were wrong in some their criticisms). KC used his newspapers to attack Robichaud, and backed his Tory rival in the 1970 election, helping oust Robichaud from power.
Since then, the province’s premiers have learned not to challenge the Irvings' power. Queries to discuss the Irvings with recent premiers, including David Alward, Shawn Graham, Camille Thériault, Frank McKenna, Bernard Lord, along with the current government of Brian Gallant, were either politely declined or never acknowledged. “What you have is a classic captured state situation, in which a corporation essentially takes over making policy for government,” says Bowser. “We saw this across Eastern Europe.”<snip>
Again, the entire article is here:
June 6, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Friday, June 10th:
NDP PEI Women -- Hilda Ramsay Fund Dinner, 6PM, Charlottetown Hotel, tickets $80 with $45 tax receipt. All welcome. Funds raised are for NDP women candidates, and MP Niki Ashton will be the guest speaker. For more into call (902) 368-7337 or e-mail email@example.com
Have a look this week at the Provincial Energy Strategy draft -- or the overview of recommended action items document (these recommendations are a bit more manageable seven pages and are organized into themes).
Comments on this draft will be accepted until (including) Friday, June 10th, then a second draft to come out in a couple of weeks.
Karl Hengst gives some thoughts which may help others look at the strategy critically and comment about what could be addressed in the next draft.
Energy Strategy Draft Misses Point - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Friday, June 4th, 2016
Any P.E.I. (or national) energy considerations today, in May/June 2016, must start with the known requirement of stopping climate change, and stopping it fast, as documented in the Paris agreement. Yes, this also applies to us.
That steers us directly to clean, green energy. (I don't like the word renewable, because we are not equally concerned with supply than with the GHG/environmental devastation from it, as in the case of renewable wood or perhaps hydro.)
The report could have consisted of as little as, say, 20 well thought-out pages, covering public education, reducing demand, revised building standards, governmental incentives/financial support, solar/wind/geothermal offer for every home, new Silicon Valley type of industrial/research centres, placing them near existing living centres with dedicated bike lane infrastructure, cutting down on long and medium distance commuting, installing Island wide transit service, even initially localized light rail transit (but only as part of a comprehensive overall, Island-wide transit masterplan), introducing measurements for home heat loss, home heating/cooling, individual energy supply units/cost, annual review of changes in circumstances, needs, uses, improvements and compliance with Paris agreement/promises.
A good energy strategy is directly linked to job security, public health, climate change prevention and environmental protection. Such a report/draft does not require many pages, but the content requires substantial considerations, all-encompassing foresight and political will/demand/expectation for nothing less than the best possible report.
Karl Hengst, Summerside
Comments already submitted and the revised consultation timeline have been packaged by the PEI Energy Corporation, and are on their website on the "Provide Input" page. The file is also download and on the Facebook Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. page, if you click on the "Files" section.
June 5, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Two Macphail Woods events coming up next weekend, so you can plan ahead if interested:
Saturday, June 11th:
Upton Farm Confederation Forest Planting, anytime between 10AM-3PM, in Upton Park area in Charlottetown.
Help with the work of new plantings. Lots of support but be prepared to get dirty. More details and map here on their website.
Sunday, June 12th:
Bob Bancroft talk: Water, Land and Wildlife -- the Healthy Connections, 2PM, Macphail Woods Ecological Centre, Orwell, free. Website details here.
Well-known Nova Scotia naturalist and CBC Radio Maritime Noon phone-in guest Bob Bancroft will explore:
how land and water combine to produce clean water and healthy habitats for many species. While the responsibilities for forests, agriculture and freshwaters are separated by government into departments, in the real world land and water function as one unit. Disproportionately large numbers of wild plant and animal species seek out this zone where terrestrial habitats meet aquatic ones. Bob will be offering guidelines for wildlife stewardship.
This opinion piece was in Monday's Guardian but has not been put in the digital edition. Boyd sent the text version, which I edited very slightly for formatting:
Islanders Downstream Far Enough - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Boyd Allen
Published on Monday, May 30th, 2016
Rory Francis' Guest Opinion on behalf of P.E.I. BioAlliance in the May 12 Guardian was streamlined in both content and intended message. He states in it that we have an abundance of water here on the Island and it could be easily managed " without conflict, and largely without compromise". He also wants the current moratorium on high capacity wells ended posthaste. Further to this he sees evidence of these wells being over-regulated, the associated time and cost a " burden to businesses currently excessive". He feels that the status quo (minus a few troubling excesses) is working just fine. These assertions are based on selected, uncited data and an unidentified "50-50 Balance" (for humans and the environment) apparently established in the 80's.
The message Mr. Francis delivered is not surprising given the function of P.E.I BioAlliance and what "partners" it represents. It states a fundamental purpose as "getting companies to market faster". It features an impressive list of Partners including strong representation from transnational pharmacuetical and agri-business corporations. One of these absorbed Biovectra, is based in Ireland and boasts 2nd quarter net sales fifty per cent higher than Health P.E.I.'s annual budget.
Another, Glaxo Smith Kline, had resources available in 2012 to pay 3 billion dollars in criminal fines in the US for failure to to report safety data and providing kickbacks to Physicians.
One of P.E.I. BioAlliance's key benefits is that it provides "ready access to decision makers". That may be why it didn't feel it necessary to participate in the comprehensive public consultations on the pending Water Act. The Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) Committee, charged to undertake these consultations, received input from countless people and organizations ranging from The Potato Board to the Souris Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation. Oddly enough, the EAC's Public Consultation Report was made public 4 days after Mr.Francis' letter. It brought forward concepts such as the use of precautionary principal and intergenerational equity. Responsibility for downstream impact from industrial activities was addressed as was the need for future adaptability to climate change. There is a strong recommendation for the creation of a comprehensive regulatory framework in tandem with a robust method by which these regulations are enforced. Seen through the corporate lens, these recommendations represent downright heresy .
The week following the BioAlliance letter, the Federal Government announced its clearance of Aqua Bounty's end product to be sold in Canada. Aqua Bounty has its permit application for establishing high capacity wells in Rollo Bay in the system, waiting for the Province to make a decision. Aqua Bounty is another BioAlliance partner.
P.E.I.'s emerging Water Act is a critical piece of legislation. Corporate agendas should not be given undue priority in its creation. Well being of the host community and the integrity of the environment do not even warrant a column in their spreadsheet. Mr. Francis offered as a reasonable strategy for the over extraction of Winter River: "the fish can move downstream". We on the Island are about as far downstream as we can safely go.
Paul MacNeill's PEICanada publishing group produces the bi-weekly Island Farmer paper, and this article was in the May 25th issue and here on-line:
Here is an excerpt:
Industry Finds Little Surprising in Water Act Report - Island Farmer article by Andy Walker
Published on Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
There was little in the long-awaited report on the Water Act from the Environmental Advisory Council that either of the general farm organizations put in the category of a surprise. "This is just one more step in the process," said Robert Godfrey, the executive director of the PEI Federation of Agriculture. "Even when a new Water Act is developed, it will be a guide to government-- it is impossible to plan for every eventuality in legislation."
The women's district director of the National Farmers Union was pleased with what she saw in the document. Edith Ling said the council "pretty much reported what they heard" during a series of public meetings and private consultations. The 60 page report was broken down into six main areas -- water governance and legislation, water quality, water management, environment and ecosystem, conservation and new approaches to water resource practices. In each section, the commission highlighted some general themes heard from presenters.
For agriculture, the big issue surrounds the fate of a 2002 moratorium on deep water irrigation wells. The report notes there was general agreement among the presenters to maintain the moratorium "until such time as scientifically validated sustainable watershed budgeting and water allocation systems can be developed and approved on a watershed-by-watershed basis."
Neither Ling nor Godfrey were expecting a definitive answer from the council on the long range fate of the moratorium. The province has indicated on a number of occasions the ban will stay in place at least until the act and regulations are developed.
rest of the article at:
June 4, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown and Summerside, and I think the Farmer's Market and Delights will be at the Farm Centre today, also.
Plant Walk at Macphail Woods with Gary Schneider, 10AM-noon, Macphail Woods,Orwell. Kate MacQuarrie can't make it and the substitute guy is pretty good. Details from the Macphail Woods website.
Yesterday, the PEI Energy Strategy Team announced changes to the public consultation schedule for the Provincial Energy Strategy. They wrote that they were responding to the feedback they had received this week about the timing of input for the draft and the final draft.
Here is the e-mail I received (and at their website, you can sign up to receive these kinds of notices)
This past week, the PEI Energy Corporation held scheduled public consultations across the Island. The Energy Corporation has listened to input from the public at these meetings about the consultation process.
We have therefore extended the overall process. We will now release a second draft of the Energy Strategy (aiming for June 17th) and hold an additional in-person consultation session in Charlottetown on June 29th. The final Strategy will be released in the summer. The website (www.peiec.ca) will remain open for comments on the first draft of the Strategy until June 10; it will be reopened for comments when the second draft is released.
For more information on the overall consultation process, please review the attached document, or visit the website.
Details will be announced as they are finalized.
So nothing changes as far as the first draft -- any comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org until June 10th, or use the 200 words or fewer form on the website -- but a second draft will be released around June 17th with one public meeting Wednesday, June 29th.
If you get a chance this weekend, look at the seven page recommendations summary (which is actually what the Dunsky consultant went through at the public meeting I was at Wednesday), to focus any comments.
The main principles guiding them (my words) are:
1) reducing greenhouse gases
2) keeping costs for energy manageable
3) stimulating the economy
which are good but there is still this lack of coordination with the Climate Change Strategy, which is coming out some late time this summer.
The process and some feedback so far are on the Provide Input page (you can view this slide show on this page):
And here is a sample slide of some of what they have been hearing and compiling:
Screenshot from a page of public feedback on the Provincial Energy Strategy site. Bold means they have heard it from more than one person.
June 3, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
This news did not get too much coverage yesterday -- the federal Liberal government has agreed to change the structure of the committee that will study (federal) electoral reform.
An excerpt from a CBC story yesterday:
After weeks of criticism and controversy in the House of Commons, the Liberal government has agreed to support an NDP proposal that gives no one party a majority of seats on the committee that will study electoral reform.
At the NDP's suggestion, seats on the committee would be allotted proportionally according to the popular vote in last year's federal election. The 12-member committee would be composed of five Liberals, three Conservatives, two New Democrats, one member of the Bloc Québécois and Green MP Elizabeth May.
The Liberal proposal would have based the committee, like all other committees of the House of Commons, on the current seat count, with six Liberals, three Conservatives and one New Democrat (the Liberals also proposed that one member of the Bloc and May could have non-voting seats on the committee).
"We heard the opposition's concerns that we were perhaps behaving in a way that was resembling more the previous government than the kind of approach and tone that we promised throughout the electoral campaign," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained later on Thursday.
There is still criticism from the Conservatives that there should be a referendum on this issue.
full story here on CBC on-line
Some changes in provincial government administration were announced earlier this week:
Brian Douglas, current clerk of executive council, and Steven MacLean, deputy minister of Communities, Land and Environment, will both retire June 20. Both had been with government during Robert Ghiz's time as Premier.
Here is a list of deputy ministers, with new roles in italics:
Paul Ledwell, Clerk of Executive Council, Secretary to Cabinet, and Deputy Minister of Policy and Priorities
(Mr. Ledwell also serves on the Steering Committee of the "PEI Energy Strategy Team")
John Jamieson, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
Michele Dorsey, Q.C., Deputy Minister of Communities, Land and Environment
Neil Stewart, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Tourism
Susan Willis, Deputy Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture
Teresa Hennebery, Deputy Minister of Family and Human Services
David Arsenault, Deputy Minister of Finance
Kim Critchley, Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness (Michael Mayne having gone to be CEO of Health PEI)
Erin Mitchell, Deputy Minister of Justice and Public Safety
John MacQuarrie, Deputy Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy
(Mr. MacQuarrie also serves on the Steering Committee of the "PEI Energy Strategy Team")
Sharon Cameron, Deputy Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning
Luanne Gallant has been confirmed as the CEO of the Workers Compensation Board, a role she has filled since July 2015.
June 2, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight is the last public meeting regarding the provincial energy strategy.
Thursday, June 2nd:
Public Consultation on Provincial Energy Strategy -- Montague, 6-8PM, Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre, 21 Sullivan Drive (off Rte. 4, on the right, after crossing the river, just beyond the Access PEI Montague building, I think.. Note the earlier time than most public meetings. Coffee, tea, water and some sweets will likely be provided.
The one in Charlottetown last night was very well-attended, and mostly by people who were following the subject or had particular knowledge or interests; though there was general consensus that it was very hard to find out about the meeting. (More on their public outreach comments another day.)
It took more than the two hours for the presenter Julie-Ann Vincent from Dunsky Consulting to go through the seven pages of overview of recommendations from the draft strategy (found here).
She was gracious and ably answered questions as she went along. And there were questions, as this is a huge amount of information for anyone to process.
PC MLAs Sidney MacEwen and Brad Trivers were there. Trivers, as he did in the Legislature this spring, mentioned the importance of exploring and supporting diversified small-scale projects, which combined would have a considerable effect, and keep money on Prince Edward Island.
There was someone taking notes (presumably for the consulting firm) and people were asked to write comments on a colour-coded set of sticky- notes, to pass in. There was no time to share much of anything of what people wrote on the notes. The small-bite feedback idea (the sticky-notes, the 200 word limit on comments on the PEI Energy Corporation's website sends a bit of a message to Islanders about the value of their contributions to this process.
If you can get to Montague tonight to listen and ask questions or comments, please do. Peter Bevan-Baker mentioned he was planning to attend that one.
If you can get to a meeting, or especially if you cannot, and are concerned about the timeframe and the mismatch of having this strategy completed (goal is June 30, according to the consulting firm) BEFORE a draft strategy on climate change mitigation is discussed with the public, contact:
Energy Minister Paula Biggar <email@example.com>,
the PEI Energy Commission <PEIEnergyStrategy@gov.pe.ca>
and Robert Mitchell, Minister of Environment <firstname.lastname@example.org>
who DID slow down a rushed process with the water act when people raised concerns.
And your own MLA could be copied, too. The MLA contact page is here.
Unless they hear to extend this timeline, public comments close June 10th (next Friday) and there are *no plans* for the public to comment on the final document that the consulting firm will revise between the 10th and the end of the month.
from the June 2nd Global Chorus essay, by Joel and Michelle Levey, "social architects and compassion activists", who write:
"<<snip>> As we realize that we can’t solve problems from the same levels of consciousness that created them, we realize that what is required is nothing less than a global revolution in consciousness, to transform the delusional mind states at the root of so many global
crises." -- Joel and Michelle Levey
June 1, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight is the only Charlottetown meeting scheduled so far regarding the Provincial Energy Strategy.
Public Consultation on Provincial Energy Strategy -- Charlottetown, 6-8PM (note earlier time than most public meetings), Murchison Centre, 17 Pius X Ave. Drop in anytime that you can make it. I have heard the first hour is a presentation of parts of the 126-page strategy (and to be clear, only about 80 pages are new -- the rest is the slideshow "background" document reprinted -- duplicate page and all! --that was made by the consultants a few months ago), then some sort of examination of the parts in more detail. I am not sure if there will be presentations from particular groups, but I would hope there will be time for comments from attendees
Thursday, June 2nd:
Public Consultation on Provincial Energy Strategy -- Montague, 6-8PM, Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre, 21 Sullivan Dr.
Another event later this week:
Saturday, June 4th:
Plants of Prince Edward Island, 10AM, Macphail Woods, Orwell. "Kate MacQuarrie, one of the province’s foremost biologists, will focus on many of the plants, both native and non-native, that you commonly encounter, plus a look at lots of rare trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns."
Back to energy:
If you would like to drop a quick line about the timing of this public consultation process to the PEI Energy Corporation and to the two Ministers involved (Paula Biggar of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, and Robert Mitchell of Community, Lands and Environment), here is the contact information.
Here are two longish but excellent, well-worth reading pieces. The first is the text of Jordan MacPhee's op-ed piece which is in print in today's Guardian (page A-7) but not on-line yet. The second is by journalist Ian Petrie. Perhaps consider referring to the first op-ed piece if you write to the Corporation and Ministers. I appreciate both writers sharing their work with us.
PEI Energy Strategy Consultations: Why the Rush? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan McPhee
Printed on Wednesday, June 1st, 2016, in The Guardian
A flurry of consultation meetings on PEI’s Energy Strategy are taking place this week. However, you may not have heard about them because the meetings have been hastily planned and poorly advertised. Islanders deserve more notice and better consultation than this if we are to have an actual voice in shaping our energy future.
Last Wednesday, the PEI Energy Corporation released Quebec-based Dunsky Energy Consulting’s 126-page draft strategy on their website (www.peiec.ca) and four back-to-back meetings across the island were announced for this week.
Two meetings in Elmsdale and Summerside already took place on Monday and Tuesday; the next two are in Charlottetown tonight, Wednesday, June 1 (Murchison Centre, 17 Piux X Avenue) and in Montague tomorrow, Thursday, June 2 (Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre, 21 Sullivan Drive).
In a May 19 press release announcing the consultation meetings (before the draft strategy had even been released), Paula Biggar, our Minister of Transportation, Energy, and Infrastructure stated, “Meaningful public engagement in the shaping of policy is a major priority for government, and is especially important on issues such as energy that affect all Islanders.”
As an islander working full-time with other personal commitments and responsibilities — as is the case with many who are interested in offering their thoughts about the Energy Strategy — this is simply not enough time to digest 126 pages of information and formulate thoughtful responses. Suffice it to say, I don’t feel “meaningfully engaged”.
If it is truly such a priority that islanders have a voice in shaping something so fundamental to our day to day lives as our energy future, then let’s just slow down and let the public formulate an opinion before wrapping up this strategy as complete. If you agree that this process is rushed, you can contact Energy Minister Paula Biggar at email@example.com and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them so.
We at the Environmental Coalition of PEI recommend that the deadline for online submissions simply be extended, and that there be at least one more consultation meeting, if not more, to be well-advertised in all island publications and other media. There should be at least two weeks’ notice given before further meetings are to take place in mid to late June. Also, given that at least one of the two hours of this week’s meetings are dedicated to presentations on the strategy, there should be another hour added for those who wish to stay and offer further comments in person.
From our cursory overview of the draft strategy, some comments worth making regard a lack of certain priorities in the strategy. As the all-embracing context, the Legislative Committee on Energy and Infrastructure recommended in their own report that we must strive toward the goal of 100% clean and renewable energy for all purposes before 2050, with 80% conversion before 2030, and their report points to multiple sources that prove this is an achievable goal.
In general, a consideration of energy climate change impacts must be in all decisions in all government departments. The planning of our climate change strategy and our energy strategy are completely interwoven. As such, we must also involve young people with public education on energy and innovation to come up with ideas for solutions. The energy future that we plan will have lasting consequences for our youth tomorrow. Doing this well begins with meaningful engagement today. So let’s not rush it.
Jordan MacPhee is a student of political science and environmental studies at UPEI, an aspiring farmer, and a board member of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (ECOPEI).
Vision of an Energy Future - Vision PEI article by Ian Petrie
Rewritten yesterday from a piece published earlier this year for Vision PEI
Anyone who follows Bill McKibben (350.org) knows he’s been a warrior when it comes to fighting climate change, looking for governments to be bold before it’s too late. It made an article in the New Yorker such a pleasure to read: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/29/power-to-the-people . It’s an inspiring story of the coming together of technology, financing, and a visionary leader of a Vermont electric utility that’s allowing modest income families to heat and cool their homes for the same or less money, and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s something we could do on PEI.
Heat pumps, those reverse refrigerator units you see on the outside of a growing number of PEI homes are part of the solution. They’re replacing oil furnaces in many homes which is a good start to reducing carbon, but it’s where the electricity comes from to power the heat pumps that’s the key. Already on PEI we’re producing a sizable amount of wind energy, and when storage becomes more efficient, PEI will be able to use more. It’s the potential for solar power that’s the real game changer. Panels are certainly cheaper than they were, but it’s still very expensive for most homeowners to set-up a system. McKibben writes that electric utilities in North America are nervous and hostile towards panels on people’s homes. Why? These customers don’t buy as much power, and they expect to be paid for the surplus power they don’t use. Both mean the utility has to maintain all of the poles, wires, transformers and generators for cloudy, cold days, while the customer cuts way back on demand, a financial death spiral for any company.
Green Mountain Power in Vermont is the utility trying something different. It’s financing the homeowners’ upgrades (more insulation, LED lights, heat pumps, small solar panel, etc) so the homeowner continues to pay the same bill, but the energy footprint is transformed. The woman running the utility, Mary Powell, thinks the company can thrive because all of this cuts down on its costs: the electricity it has to either generate or buy. That’s a big change for utilities used to having to meet reliability guidelines (enough power, 24/7) , and living in a regulated financial environment where customers, costs and a good rate of return on investments are guaranteed. That’s certainly the world that Maritime Electric has been living in. Can a new energy strategy change the incentives for the company enough so that it doesn’t feel threatened by solar or other renewables? Can we as Islanders accept anything less than 24/7 reliable power if it means more reliance on the intermittent nature of renewables (we get power when the wind blows and the sun shines). Can Maritime Electric shareholders accept something less than guaranteed returns, accept a bit more risk in return for cleaner energy production?
PEI just survived the latest power generation crisis. A year ago the company said it needed to spend $50 Million on a new diesel generator in Charlottetown to meet rising demand ( from all of those heat pumps). Fortunately New Brunswick power found enough surplus power in its system to contract more to PEI, just as the province said it would do any purchasing of new generating capacity. We will face this issue again in three or four years. Will Muskrat Falls offer a solution? Will the Bay of Fundy tides? Or is Vermont a glimpse of new possibilities for the future? Is money better spent as loans through Maritime Electric or the government to help homeowners really transform how energy is produced and used in the province?
McKibben has been very critical and angry at the lack of change in energy production and use in North America. He writes after seeing what’s going on in Vermont “I felt a fairly rare emotion: hope.” Enough said.