March 31, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
TransPacific Partnership consultations come to P.E.I.:
Today, Thursday, March 31st:
Anti-TPP Rally, organized by the Council of Canadians, 1:30PM, at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel, end of Queen Street, Charlottetown. A good gathering with short speeches. (This is timed to be there for the beginning of the By-Invitation-Only Roundtable on the environment, 2-3PM, Delta Prince Edward, Tupper Room.)
Roundtable at UPEI, 3:30-4:30PM, UPEI, Faculty Lounge (SDU Main Building). Public is invited. The Main Building is near the Student Union (Murphy Student Centre) and public parking is nearby, off the University Avenue entrance.
If you can wander (perhaps with a good raincoat) down to the rally and/or head to UPEI to sit in a cozy seat at the UPEI Roundtable (perhaps go a bit early since it might be a busy place) , please do so. Only by people showing up -- especially when it's not been so actively publicized or promoted -- and expressing concerns can these consultations be called anything like "public".
The Parliamentary Secretary is coming today, and media has picked up on it now. Mr. Lametti will be on CBC Radio after 8AM, and this letter is from yesterday's Guardian:
Meeting with public on TPP trade deal - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
published on Wednesday, March 30th, 2016, in The Guardian
As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, I am glad to be travelling to Prince Edward Island in order to consult with provincial leaders, local industry representatives, and members of the public on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and on international trade. With over 200 consultations completed so far, the Government of Canada has benefited immensely from the insight gained during these interactions.
On March 31, I will be participating in a public roundtable hosted by the University of Prince Edward at the SDU Main Building at 3:30 p.m. The event is open to all, and Canadians who would like to share their views are encouraged to attend, regardless of their opinion on the TPP. I’m also pleased that the House of Commons international trade committee is leading separate TPP public consultations as a matter of priority.
Next month alone, public consultations will be held in Vancouver (April 18), Calgary (April 19), Saskatoon (April 20), and Winnipeg (April 21).
Canadians who wish to express their opinions can do so by providing a written submission (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by appearing as a witness before the committee. They can provide their name and contact information to the committee clerk at the same address. I look forward to engaging with Islanders this week, and indeed with Canadians from across the country, as we pursue this important dialogue.
David Lametti, MP
To Minister of International Trade
Some other things today and in the near future:
Vesey Seeds Fundraising Bulbs for Farm Centre Legacy Garden deadline today:
From a Facebook posting by Phil Ferraro, manager of the P.E.I. Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown,with some bold by me:
"Hello Gardeners. It is time to start most of your veggies and herbs. This year we have set-up a seed bank in my office. We have organic seed from High Mowing Seed Co. plus a fairly wide selection of seed from Vesey Seeds. Organic Seed sells for $3.00 per packet or 2 for $5.00. all other seed is $2.00 / pack. 100% of proceeds go to support the (P.E.I. Farm Centre's) Legacy Garden. Come in Tuesday or Thursday afternoons to see what we have.
BTW...... seeds also make great gifts for family, friends and neighbours
Don't forget that the deadline for your Vesey Bulb order is (today) March 31. If you have not yet placed your order come in to the office on Thursday. Sorry but we cannot take orders for bulbs after March 31."
Public Show: The Young At Heart (YAH) spring show, The Big Red Radio Show, 7:30PM, The Guild, admission charged.
It is touring Island seniors' residences in the next few weeks, and has some public shows:
The first public show tonight at The Guild at 7:30PM. Milton Hall, Friday, April 1st, and Seniors Active Living Centre April 2nd.
More public shows later are later in April, including St Peters, Georgetown, Cornwall and Crapaud.
for more info: www.yahtheatre.com
The Big Red Radio Show -- it's for all ages!
March 30, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Island Nature Trust Talk: "Water for Nature: Weird and Wonderful Wildlife", 7PM, Confederation Centre Public Library, Free. Details from the Library Website here.
Tomorrow are some events related to consultations regarding the super free trade agreement, the TransPacific Partnership (TPP).
Thursday, March 31st:
Anti-TPP Rally organized by the Council of Canadians, 1:30PM, at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel, end of Queen Street, Charlottetown.
By-Invitation-Only Roundtable on the environment, 2-3PM, Delta Prince Edward, Tupper Room.
Roundtable at UPEI, 3:30-4:30PM, UPEI, Faculty Lounge (SDU Main Building). This event is about TPP and Trade in general, but there are inconsistencies in communications about its format. It sounds like it is open to interested members of the public, so if you are in town tomorrow and can get to either the rally at the Delta at 1:30PM, or this roundtable at UPEI at 3:30, please do.
Wednesday, April 27th (mark you calendars):
Forum: Prince Edward Island and the TPP, 7PM, Rodd Charlottetown
Here is a quote from a very introspective Islander:
"How to differentiate between authentic and inauthentic inclusion in the decision making process is no easy task - the indicators for both are neither named nor commonly accepted. However, what is known is that inauthentic inclusion buys time. Time to secure short term compliance, postpone resistance and prepare to (as politicians love to say) 'move forward'. Lots to be done in the area of participatory governance, eh?" -- Walter Wilkins
and two letters in the paper recently about the agreement and the consultations:
TPP: Consultations in Name Only - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Printed on Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
The Justin Trudeau Liberals think the TPP — the Trans Pacific Partnership — is a good deal for Canadians. Meanwhile, the three leading candidates for the presidency of the United States — Sanders, Clinton and Trump — oppose the TPP.
On Thursday, March 31, federal Liberals will come to Charlottetown with their promised consultations on the TPP. The first meeting is by invitation only and will be held at the Delta Hotel; the second is at UPEI and open to the UPEI community. Each consultation will last no more than an hour.
The TPP is a trade and investment agreement between Canada and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. For Canada, the deal will cost jobs, limit internet freedom, lower labour, food safety and environmental standards. It will also increase the costs of prescription drugs significantly. The most serious threat though, as in other trade agreements like NAFTA, is its impact on democracy. In reality, the TPP is a bill of rights for corporations. It’s not about free trade.
The TPP includes a provision that foreign corporations can sue a signatory government for any loss of anticipated profits due to government action. This Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is already in NAFTA and is costing Canadians billions of dollars from corporate lawsuits. These claims are decided by secret international tribunals composed of three private sector attorneys each earning up to a million dollars or more per case. This is outrageous and anti-democratic. It’s time to tell the Trudeau Liberals we don’t want the TPP.
Council of Canadians, P.E.I. Chapter
CETA Won't Help Price for Fishers - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Monday, March 28th, 2016
I was interested in Premier MacLauchlan’s mention at his Forum on the Economy of his plan to triple P.E.I.’s seafood exports. The yet to be ratified trade agreement with the European Union (CETA) was supposed to be the silver bullet in his plan.
If he’s hoping to increase the value of our exports by ensuring that value is added before lobster leaves the Island, then the CETA could very well be a hindrance rather than a help. P.E.I. gave up its right to pursue policies, which require that a certain amount of lobster be processed on the Island when negotiating the CETA.
If he’s hoping that an increase in demand will increase the price fetched by exporters, CETA does nothing to guarantee that any such increase will be reflected in the price that fisher people get at the wharf.
The reluctance of politicians to acknowledge the real impact of CETA concerns me — the aggressive erosion of our right to create laws and policies in the public interest. It will increase the cost of drugs for Islanders by an estimated $3.6 million dollars annually, limit our ability to use government contracts, such as building schools, to benefit our local economy, prohibit the creation of new public services, erode our dairy Industry, threaten the long-term existence of the Land Protection Act and prohibit the most effective “buy local” policies.
We need the premier to come clean on all the policy space we have traded away in the CETA and have a debate.
March 29, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Here are some events coming up in the next week:
Tonight, March 29th:
Movie: Nowhere Else to Go, 7PM, Holland College, Kent St. entrance, Room 21W (next to MacKinnon Lecture Theatre), sponsored by Don't Frack PEI, Holland College Green Machine, and Cinema Politica. Admission by donation
‘Nowhere Else to Go’ documents the 2013 anti-shale gas protests near Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick. The film provides an in-depth look into the early days of the protest in July through the RCMP raid on the protest encampment near Rexton on October 17th. The film also highlights the context for the protest, including the troubled history of the relationship between First Nations people and the Canadian government, the provincial government’s handling of consultation in advance of shale gas exploration licensing and the support for First Nations protesters that developed amongst non-native anti-shale activists.
The film is a shorter version of a longer work in progress. See more at the filmmaker's website:
After the film (which lasts 35 minutes) Eliza Knockwood will lead a discussion and show some of the film she took when she was in Elsipogtog in 2013.
Wednesday, March 30th:
Organic Ambassador Training Session, 9AM-Noon, Farm Centre, 420 University Ave., Charlottetown, Fee: $30 or $20 for ACORN members. More info: http://www.acornorganic.org/events/calendar/organic-ambassador-training-pei
ACORN is launching a new Organic Ambassador training program to provide those like you – and other farmers, consumers, retailers and supporters of organic agriculture – with hands-on training to be a clear voice for organics in your market and/or community.
With communications training and clear and consistent messaging on organics under your belt after this training, you will be able to dispel organic food myths, increase consumer clarity about what organic really means, and empower others with a greater understanding of important food and farming issues.
Join facilitator Corrie Melanson of See Meaning Graphic Facilitation for a half-day workshop on persuasive communication and marketing skills and become a fully trained "Organic Ambassador."
<snip> You'll benefit from:
Organic Ambassador Toolkit complete with organic FAQ reference guide, a ready-to-deliver "all about organic" presentation suitable for a general public audience, and other tools to support outreach on organics (including your very own "Ask Me About Organic" button)
Follow-up hour-long webinar training "How to Deliver Good Community Presentations"
More info: email@example.com
Friday, April 1st:
Last Day of Comment Period, to the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, on "the Plebiscite Question" and other issues regarding Democratic Renewal. (More details in tomorrow's Citizens Alliance News, but this link has some extra information:
Wednesday, April 6th:
Workshop: Understanding the Proportional Representation Models Dual-Member Mixed Proportional (DMP) and Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP), 6:30PM, Murphy Centre, Richmond St., Free, all welcome but asked to please pre-register by Friday.
Join us for a presentation on the two PR models being looked at for the plebiscite. We'll be looking at the benefits of both models and discussing ideas about getting the message about PR out to the community.
Everyone Welcome! No Admission Fee!
Pre-register by Friday, April 1 by calling (902)894-4573 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An excerpt from the essay from Global Chorus for March 29th, by British environmentalist Tony Juniper:
"Meeting human needs while maintaining the fabric of Nature requires that we look at changing really quite massive forces – namely our economic system and its related consumerist culture." --Tony Juniper
March 28, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some fun to watch this Easter Monday, courtesy of CBC Docs, about David Suzuki's life lessons (3 minutes):
The full episode of The Nature of Things on David Suzuki at 80 is on this page (45 minutes):
People that stick their necks out often about issues, especially environmental ones, can become lighting rods for criticism, and it can almost take away from the issue at hand. When David Suzuki came to P.E.I, to give the Symons Medal Lecture in 2012, or on the Blue Dot Tour in 2014, some people brought up his flying around to talk about climate change. (He counters if he can urge groups of people to act, he hopes his travel is worth it.)
On P.E.I., environmentalist and former Green Party PEI leader Sharon Labchuk has consistently commented on issues related to pesticides and the potato monoculture industry. She recently was featured calling the Potato Board's initiative to fund trees for planting around some schools a "stunt" (and that it is not addressing the real issues); as you can guess, the executive director of the organization wrote an opinion piece soon after expressing surprise and dismay at her criticism of a simple tree planting initiative.
Here are just two of the letters in her defense:
Earth Action not entire story - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on March 26, 2016
It is hard to argue when Greg Donald (Potato Board GM) claims the Potato board is not creating a stunt by saying they will plant trees around schools. Planting trees is never a bad thing, and no one would argue otherwise.
However, he rather blows his argument out of the water when he claims it is only Earth Action opposed to his plan. He claims he is working with the provincial Environment (they approved Plan B) and the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance. He further mentions the buffer zones and tells about trees creating wildlife habitat and enhancing green space.
Heck, he almost sounds like a modern day Robin Hood rebuilding Sherwood Forest. Yet there remain the huge bare tracts of land devoid of topsoil awaiting the industrial tractors and plows to replant more potatoes and then spray them with poison chemicals.
You can claim what you like Mr. Donald, but be very sure many more people are against you than just Earth Action.
F. Ben Rodgers,
In defense of Ms. Labchuk - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on March 26, 2016
Nice try, P.E.I. Potato Board, for giving us a somewhat clever commentary which both misleads Islanders and personally insults Sharon Labchuk. Why, to read Greg Donald’s piece one would think that Sharon is actually against the environment, while farmers are a combination of Robin Hood and Johnny Appleseed.
Apparently planting trees around schools is being done to give students less snow, and more little critters, while teaching them the values of planting trees. Nowhere in the commentary are the words "herbicide, pesticide, wind-drift, pollution, mono-culture or water table" mentioned.
Here is a perfect example of Illogical thinking - People who plant trees are good for the environment; Sharon Labchuk does not plant trees; therefore Sharon is not good for the environment. Quite a stretch.
One thing we have to give Sharon she is persistent. Like her or not, she is our ‘Thorn in my shoe’ regarding the environment.
Thank you, Sharon, for continually working to protect the environment. I’m sure we disagree on many things, but on being able to continue to live here, in good health, all Islanders have to agree with you.
March 27, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Easter! It's been a week or so of Happy Days -- St. Patrick's Day, the Spring Equinox, World Water Day, and International Forest Day, which was March 21st, the day before World Water Day (and which I forgot to mention then).
"This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests." --from this website, with more info:
When I think of forests on P.E.I., I think with admiration and appreciation all that Gary Schneider of the Macphail Woods Ecological Project has done to promote, protect and support our island forests, big and small.
Here is a nice little background on Gary -- concise, just like his writing.
On St. Patrick's Day in 2012, my family tromped what we could find of the surveyor's line cut for the Plan B highway, and couldn't believe how beautiful (and hilly) those few kilometers were.
From March 17, 2012: One of the ravines in the former Fairyland property, along the surveyor's line, now widely cut, culverted, filled-in and we drive up on it on the current highway; near Gasses' Store in New Haven.
It was Gary in 2012 who suggested that the Stop Plan B people host public walks along the more accessible parts of the line, so people could see what was in danger of being lost. We held several, and many people hiked and saw from Peter's Road down to what became known as Hemlock Grove, and in the other direction the pretty little creek and big ravine to the west (which is now the "box culvert" area). It connected so many wonderful people to the issue, and many of those people stay quite connected to what's going on on this island and what they can do about it through the Citizens' Alliance and other organizations.
from April 2012, two kids goofing around at the starting point of walks along the surveyor's cut, Peter's Road off the old TCH, Churchill.
Gary continues to organize and to host many, many walks and gatherings at Macphail Woods and elsewhere (owl prowls begin next month, by the way, more details here). I especially appreciate the times he has come out to Plan B to point out what we should be watching for in witnessing how the forests respond to the highway over time. It's probably time to plan another walk. :-)
From late October 2012, after cutting and clearing for the highway had begun, Gary Schneider leads a walk in the Plan B area.
March 26, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Markets are open today:
Charlottetown Farmers' Market, 9AM-2PM, Belvedere Ave.
Summerside Farmers' Markets, 9AM-1PM, old Holman Building.
Charlottetown Market and Delights, 9AM-2PM,Farm Centre, 420 University Ave. The Easter Bunny and a photographer will be there from 11:30AM-1:30PM. http://www.charlottetownmarket.ca/
District 17 "Chili and Chat", with MLA Peter Bevan-Baker, 1PM, Emyvale Recreation Centre.
Though this letter to the editor is from a Kansas paper, much of it is similar here and her idea could be applied in our part of the world.
Hannah Becker: Young farmers are essential to ensure future food supply - The Kansas City Star Letter to the Editor by Hannah Becker
Special to The Kansas City Star
Did you know the next world war is likely to be fought over food? Economists predict Americans will begin to experience food scarcity as early as 2030 if current trends in agriculture continue. As a military spouse whose family continues to experience the life-changing effects of a commodity-driven war, I believe securing our food supply is a crucial mission.
In fact, American agriculture is already facing a potentially devastating shortage: The number of farmers across America is declining.
The average age of farmers in the U.S. is 58; only 6 percent of farmers are 35 or younger. Between 2007 and 2012, we added only 1,220 new young farmers. Such troubling stats have many asking the question, “Who is going to feed America?”
I, for one, would like to do my part. I’ve wanted to be a farmer as long as I can remember, so I went to college in pursuit of two degrees I believed would prepare me to produce high quality agriculture products in an economically sound way, a B.S. in animal and dairy science and an MBA. Agriculture and business are extremely intertwined.
When it came time to start my own farm, I used my degrees on a daily basis, but they came at a cost. I paid for as much of my education as I could up-front, but I also had to take out student loans, and like many young farmers, those loans are now one of my biggest barriers to success.
In a survey conducted by the National Young Farmers Coalition, 53 percent of farmers who have student loans said it was a struggle to make monthly payments and 30 percent of respondents said they weren’t farming or delayed farming because of their student loans.
My student loans have prevented me from receiving the financing I need to invest in land and equipment, and I work two jobs in addition to farming so I can make my student loan payments. Any business owner can tell you it’s hard to get started without enough time or money.
There is a proposed solution that gives me hope. Farmers could be added to an existing program called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program that allows public service professionals, such as nurses and teachers, to apply for student loan forgiveness after making 10 years of loan payments. With over 37 million people in the U.S. struggling with student loan debt — a liability currently preventing many would-be farmers from entering the industry — this solution could help prevent the predicted food scarcity and subsequent international conflicts that may follow.
The Young Farmer Success Act (House Bill 2590) is a bipartisan bill introduced in the House last year that would add farming to the list of professions covered by the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
I have reached out to Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas, requesting they support introduction of a similar bill in the Senate, and I encourage you to do the same. Supporting the Young Farmers Success Act will help secure America’s food supply and protect national security for generations to come.
“I have always said there is only one thing that can bring our nation down — our dependence on foreign countries for food and energy,” John Salazar, a Republican representative from Colorado, has said. “Agriculture is the backbone of our economy.”
Let’s help protect our country’s future by empowering beginning farmers to produce the food products our communities so desperately need.
Hannah Becker is a first-generation farmer and master cattle producer in Franklin County, Kan.
On the Island, Allan Rankin yet again points out a way forward, in his weekly Graphic column, titled "The Island's Greatest Export is its People", published on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016:
<snip> A new Speech from the Throne will open the upcoming spring session of the Island Legislature, setting out government’s agenda and priorities for the months and perhaps years ahead.
Throne Speeches are usually department store grab bags that contain a little of this, and a little of that, attempts to please everybody, especially ministers whose departments compete for centre stage billing.
But they can also be bold and inspiring if the vision and political is present.
I am hoping Premier MacLauchlan musters some of that visionary thinking and political courage as our elected representatives take their seats once again in Charlottetown.
He should be frank with Islanders about the province’s future, rather than behave like a high school cheerleader in a game definitely being lost.
His government should be willing to face the music, and make the transformational changes necessary to put us back in the game.
For example, government could announce a long-term plan to promote small-scale, diversified agriculture and to switch away from environmentally-devastating corporate potato growing towards more sustainable, organic farming.
The writing is on the wall.
Such a policy would help re-populate rural Prince Edward Island and give us a new green footprint in the world of food production.
Premier MacLauchlan might also seize upon the greying of Prince Edward Island as an opportunity instead of a decline in productivity.
If the demographics do point toward our future as one big retirement home, then why not plan for it <snip>
The rest of the column is here:
March 25, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
There has been a lot of talk about huge trade agreements recently, especially since the federal Liberal government signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has started the process of ratifying it.
One difference between the federal political parties that emerged during the Fall 2015 election was on these trade deals, with (if my memory serves) the NDP and Green Party saying they would not continue in both the TPP and CETA (large European trade agreement on the horizon), and the Liberals saying they take a good look at it and consult with Canadians before agreeing to it.
Regarding the TPP, the federal Liberal government is following its promise of looking at it, but it kind of feels like it's a "done deal" with the consultations being a bit of a masquerade, to borrow some observations from the Plan B highway experience.
Word has come out this week about the consultations, and I am trying to make sense of it, so please forgive any inaccuracies. Thanks to the "Trade Justice PEI" group and all others for sharing what they have found out so far.
A consultation-gathering caravan is coming to the Maritimes next week; they will be on P.E.I. on Thursday, March 31st, and there will be two meetings, apparently. Both sound like they were originally invitation-only, and of course others have found out and shared the information. One is at UPEI in the morning and one (about 45 minutes only, apparently) in the afternoon. I will pass on more info as I figure it out, as I believe you have to register to be allowed in.
Besides in person on the 31st, there is an open written comment time, until the end of April.
Here is a press release, though dated the 10th, seemed to only be passed around in the past couple of days.
CANADIANS ARE INVITED TO SHARE THEIR VIEWS ON THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP) - Press Release
Ottawa, March 10, 2016 -
On February 16th, 2016, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade decided to conduct a study on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The Committee’s primary objective is to assess the extent to which the agreement, once implemented, would be in the best interests of Canadians. The study will result in a report to be presented in the House of Commons.
As part of its study, the Committee is inviting Canadian individuals and organizations to provide written submissions that express their views on the TPP agreement. The Committee is also inviting Canadians to request to appear as a witness before the Committee, either as an individual or as a representative of an organization.
“I am very pleased to be announcing consultations on the TPP agreement,” said the Honourable Mark Eyking, P.C., M.P. for Sydney — Victoria and Chair of the House International Trade Committee. “I very much look forward to Canadians’ thoughts about the agreement, and I am convinced that we will receive a wide range of thoughtful opinions. I know that I speak on behalf of Committee members in saying that we are looking forward to the submissions from Canadians and the testimony of those who appear as witnesses.”
In addition to hearings that will take place in Ottawa, and following approval by the House of Commons, the Committee expects to hold hearings across Canada over the coming months. Once cross-country hearings are confirmed, information will be provided about dates and locations.
Canadians who wish to provide a written submission must do so before 23:59 EDT on April 30th, 2016. Written submissions are to be no more than 1,500 words. 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.
Canadians who wish to appear as a witness can make their request at any time during the study. They should provide their name and contact information to the Clerk of the Committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
An impressive group of organizations has established a site where you can find more information about the TPP and more easily write some comments. The first page has you write in contact info so they can pull up your MP and make sure your comments go to him or her, too. If you want to just look at the resources (lower down on the page are links) before sending a comment, you can do that, too.
The link is here:
and the groups supporting this endeavor include The Council of Canadians and our own Trade Justice PEI (see lower left corner):
screenshot of "Let's Talk TPP" campaign hosts from the above link.
March 24, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some events today:
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 1:30PM, J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Great George and Richmond Streets. "The committee will meet to receive a briefing on petroleum product regulation from the PEI Petroleum Marketers’ Association." The public is welcome to attend.
District 17 MLA "Chili and Chat" for residents, 7PM, Afton Hall, with Peter Bevan-Baker.
Yesterday, CBC Radio's The Current interviewed David Suzuki in honor of his 80th birthday and he sounds like his candid self:
The whole interview can be found here:
It's not too late: New ideas
Worth mentioning again: the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Leap Manifesto releasing a plan for turning rural post offices around into banking centres and electricity charging stations, among other community-building plans:
from the article, about Lliam Hildebrand, a young B.C. man working as a boilermaker in the tar sands:
"When I entered the trade, I didn't have any understanding of climate change and the impact my trade is having on the world," (Lliam) Hildebrand said. "But that awareness has been growing within me and our society."
So Hildebrand rolled up his sleeves and built a non-profit oil sands-worker-led initiative called 'Iron and Earth' -- and on Monday, he and a cadre of other oil workers launched it at a press event in Edmonton.
Their goal? Train laid-off oil sands workers for jobs in the growing field of renewable energy in Alberta."
Tuesday's Federal Budget sounds generous in many areas, and there is some going towards climate change/renewable energy initiatives and such, but it's actually not very much (considering the benefits of getting renewable industry going at a faster timeline) and the dollar amounts cited are spread over the next three years.
Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada dissects it with her usual clarity:
March 23, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Just a quote today:
The March 23rd Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, edited by Todd E. MacLean (who was recently nominated for MusicPEI awards) is by Roshini Thinakaran, an American photojournalist who describes how one of her first encounters of photographing a young woman in Iraq, and despite the devastation and turmoil around her, showing hope.
<snip> "On a trip to the city of Hillah is where I first saw the girl in the men’s headscarf. She was herding sheep and I wanted to capture that moment in her life. She looked directly at me and smiled. The life in her eyes was magnetic and her half smile peered through the metal fence separating us. It’s as if she was as curious about my life as I was about hers. <snip> "I am not sure if hope is something we are born with or are taught. Sometimes I think it is a choice." -- Roshini Thinakaran
March 22, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy World Water Day!
There are a lot of articles about protecting the quantity of water, and here are "Ten Ways You Can Protect the Quality of Water,"
adapted from Clean Water Action (a California water protection group, so it's a little more urban-centred)
1. Don’t use antibacterial soaps or cleaning products. Most of these contain trichlosan, a registered pesticide that has been found to harm aquatic life. The American Medical Association warns that our use of antibacterial agents may lead to “superbugs” that will be antibiotic resistant. Regular soap and water kills germs just as effectively.
2. Never flush unwanted or out-of-date medicines down the toilet or the drain. Most pharmacies accept old medication. If necessary, pour water or vinegar in the bottle to destroy pills and make them inaccessible to children.
3. Don’t put anything except water down storm drains. These drains carry storm water to our local waterways. Used motor oil, detergents, lawn fertilizers, pesticides, and other contaminants get carried by stormwater to local waterways and cause unnecessary harm.
4. Fix leaks that drip from your car or at least collect the drips in an appropriate container. These leaks and drips contribute to water pollution.
5. Avoid using pesticides or chemical fertilizers. They pose a serious threat to your health and safety and they pollute both ground and surface water.
6. Choose non-toxic household products whenever possible.The best way to keep from polluting is to use products that are not dangerous to the environment in the first place.
7. Pick up after your pets.
8. Don’t pave your property (perhaps this applies to filling in ditches). The more pavement there is, the more rain water will simply run off down the storm drains, picking up pollutants on the way and causing flooding. Allowing water to soak into the ground can prevent flooding, recharge groundwater supplies, and dilute contaminants. Planting native plants that do not require much water also helps save our precious supplies.
9. Spread the word and be a water advocate. Talk to your neighbors about how they can help too, and work with your local elected officials to ensure that pesticides, antibacterials, and other toxic chemicals are not used at schools, local parks, and other public areas. Attend your community annual general meeting, or meet and greet with your local MLA, and tell your political leaders and water agencies to support local, state, and national policies that conserve water and stop pollution.
10. Keep informed. :-)
Here are some great ideas for other things you can do to promote awareness about water issues:
David Suzuki's Blue Dot information:
It includes the links to change your Facebook and other social media profile pictures to include a Blue Dot logo.
(David Suzuki is going to be on CBC Radio's The Current tomorrow morning.)
Join the "Thunderclap" on social media today, that you support water rights:
And this essay in yesterday's Guardian sums up things very well:
Water: Another Liquid Deserving of Praise - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan MacPhee
Published Monday, March 21st, 2016
Every year on March 17, many individuals in the western world spend their time and money to pay homage to alcohol, in all its many forms. However, only five days later, long after the head-splitting hangovers are long forgotten, I feel as though we don’t pay a similar degree of respect to the most important, yet the most taken for granted, liquid in the world: water.
March 22 marks World Water Day: one day a year where we can collectively recognize and appreciate the most fundamental source of life that is the basis for many of the world’s daily activities (including drinking beer). But in countries like Canada, where immediate access to abundant and (relatively) clean and safe drinking water is an assumed fact of daily life, it’s easy to assume this situation will automatically continue into the future. This is simply not the case.
From overconsumption and dwindling resources, to contamination caused by agriculture and industrial practices, there is less drinkable water on Earth every year, for a global population that is growing by the hundreds of thousands every day. Now, you might think (and are probably justified in assuming), “Of course this is a problem, but surely a country as advanced as Canada, a liberal democracy in the 21st century, would be one step ahead of this problem, right?” But you would be wrong.
Even though Canada is home to one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, a quarter of the world’s remaining wetlands, and the world’s longest coastline, Canada is the only G8 country without legally enforceable drinking-water-quality standards at the national level. At the provincial level, Canada relies on a patchwork of water policies, which jeopardizes people’s health and compromises clean water for future generations. More than 80 per cent of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality relating to chemical contaminants provide less protection for public health than other industrialized nations. On any given day, more than 1,000 boil-water advisories are in effect across the country, many in Indigenous communities.
Despite this unsettling scenario that we find ourselves in, there are actions we can take. More than 110 countries — over half of Earth’s nations — already recognize their citizens’ right to live in a healthy environment. However, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms is silent on the issue. A federal environmental bill of rights would help compensate for this omission by providing clear guidelines for government, industry and citizens to manage resources, economic development, and the health and well-being of communities in ways that are transparent, predictable, and sustainable.
More than 20,000 Canadians die prematurely every year because of exposure to environmental hazards, and the total cost of pollution in Canada is estimated to be more than $100 billion a year. Simply put, we can’t afford not to take action. More than 120 communities, representing more than 12 million Canadians, have passed environmental rights declarations at the local level. It’s time for the federal government to take action.
I hope other Canadians will urge the federal government to introduce an environmental bill of rights that will recognize, protect and fulfil our human right to clean water. As citizens, we should be guaranteed access to environmental information, public participation in decision-making and effective legal remedies when human and environmental health are threatened or damaged.
Water is a fundamental human right. Canada joined the international consensus and recognized the right to water at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.
We must live up to that commitment here at home.
Once that happens, then hopefully our gratitude for clean water will fall on more days than our thankfulness for green beer.
Jordan MacPhee is a student of political science and environmental studies at UPEI, a farmer, and a board member of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (ECO-PEI)
March 21, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Yesterday's CBC Radio call-in Maritime Connection had the topic of foreign workers coming in for fish processing, which was discussed by someone from the industry, and by Josie Baker from the Cooper Institute. I didn't get to hear it, but heard it was a very good discussion.
The 53 minute broadcast is here -- it is the first choice:
A bit of positive news about our world, in "infographic" format:
Infographic from: 17 Signs that Our World is Changing for the Better, from Good Magazine on-line.
screenshot from Good Magazine's website.
The two Island Graphic publications encourage their reporters to write their observations and reflections in the opinion pages.
A couple of weeks ago, West Prince Graphic staffer Laura Mills wrote this:
Littering comes at a cost - West Prince Graphic article by Laura Mills
Published on Wednesday, March 9th, 2016
I loved growing up in Ontario, but there’s something about the ocean air, the long roads and rows and rows of fields that’s refreshing to me, the people, the ocean itself, the beaches and down home hospitality that made me want to go from being a tourist to an Island resident.
Hospitality is something that’s big for tourists, I know, I was one. As a tourist, whether you’re greeted with a smile or by an engaging conversation, or invite to local Island event all have an impact on where you will choose to spend your time and money. How welcoming the community is and how clean it is can is can have a big impact, but something like littering, where garbage is on the roads, along the streets and on the beaches can be damaging.
Tourism is one of the Island’s three major industries, where people from across Canada and around the world come to take in the Island’s charm, history and beaches. However, there’s something that Islanders who litter need to be aware of; each bottle you toss, beer box you litter, every coffee cup you choose to throw out the window of your car is going to impact your island’s tourism. It impacts the economy you are a part of and can be taxing on your villages and towns resources and can effect employment. Something you may think is so small, can have a large impact on how tourists see our Island.
We want people to see our civic pride, to see that we value our land. Land that feeds us and waters that feed our Island and the world. We want them to know that this is our home and that we treat it with the respect our communities deserve. We want tourists to feel invited and know that we’re different from the rest of the country, a place where family, community and our Island are valued and honoured.
Beer boxes, bottles, pull tab lottery tickets, chip bags, coffee cups, cigarette butts etc... blowing around out on the roads and sitting on the sidewalks or our beaches doesn’t say hospitality it says, ‘I don’t care, so why should you?’
Last summer I was in a shop in West Prince where myself and some friends saw two motorcyclists with Island plates who just bought some snacks, standing by their bikes. We saw them toss their garbage on the ground. Two cans rolled across the street and a chip bag was dancing in the breeze and hitting the sidewalk. They made a conscious choice to litter.
I love this island, it’s my chosen home, and I take pride in our communities and so I felt the need to do something. I walked across the street and picked up the cans in front of them (they saw me), held them up and said, ‘see these?’ and then walked it over to a nearby garbage bin (with them watching me), and showed them that they go in the garbage or recycling. Where they littered was 12 feet away from where they bought their snacks, a place that provided garbage containers.
Littering like they did is disrespectful to fellow Islanders, our towns and villages, our businesses that rely on tourism and who take pride in their properties. It’s disrespectful to our communities that work to maintain their beauty, and to the wildlife that make our Island beautiful. Ultimately it dismisses our communities hard work, images our reputation and effects our civic pride.
Right now there’s beer boxes on the roads, there’s coffee cups and tons and tons of pull tab lottery tickets. It doesn’t matter if they’re from last year, or last week, littering needs to stop. If you don’t want garbage in your car then why should it be on our roads? We all have bins at home for garbage why not hold on to it until you get home then toss it?
Farmers shouldn’t have to pull garbage out of their fields where we grow our food, fishermen shouldn’t come across floating garbage and our fellow neighbours shouldn’t have to pick beer bottle glass out of their lawns.
-- Laura Mills
Lester R. Brown, author of World on the Edge, writes the March 21st Global Chorus essay;
<snip> "We used to talk about saving the planet. The challenge now is to save civilization. Because if the number of failing states in the world keeps increasing, civilization itself will, at some point, begin to unravel. This is our challenge: saving civilization is not a spectator sport. It’s going to require the participation of every one of us. And we’re in a situation now where every day counts. We’re in a race between tipping points – natural tipping points and political tipping points. Each of us must get involved politically, work on important issues and help to restructure the economy. Whether it’s the energy economy, or the materials economy or the comprehensive re-use/recycle economy – the old economic model, the fossil-fuel-based/automobile-centric/throwaway economy simply cannot take us where we want to go." -- Lester R. Brown
March 20, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Spring Equinox! Unfortunately I forgot that yesterday was the day for this year's Earth Hour, when you are invited to turn off lights and electric distractions for one hour in the evening. But you can make any hour Earth Hour.
World Water Day is always on March 22nd, and this year it will be Tuesday. There is more information here:
This year people are being encouraged by Blue Dot (The Right to a Healthy Environment) and the David Suzuki Foundation to show support regarding how important water is for them, and to call for protection of it, specifically in some sort of federal Environmental Rights legislation.
An informative and encouraging article from the David Suzuki website is here:
with background information and *many tips* on what you can do to show support.
An easy social media way is to participate in a Thunderclap. I didn't really know what this meant, but if I have it right, it's a "platform" that organizes massive social media bursts of support for an issue.
Background on Thunderclap is here on Wikipedia.
And to sign up to have a Facebook posting and/or a tweet sent out at noon Mountain Daylight Savings time, which I think is 3PM Tuesday, go here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/37985-wateris-thunderclap?locale=en
sample social media posting via Thunderclap for World Water Day, Tuesday, March 22nd.
Writing a letter to a local paper also broadcasts your concerns to the newspaper reading audience.
Mary Cowper-Smith wrote in Saturday's Guardian:
Canada’s water needs protection - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
World Water Day is an opportunity for us to consider the essential, life-sustaining role of water in our lives and to take action. Clean water is accessible to most of us in Canada at the turn of a tap. The situation in our First Nations’ communities, 73% of which have water systems that are at high or medium risk of contamination, is very different. 168 drinking water advisories were issued in 120 First Nations’ communities in the fall of 2015. Some communities have been living under advisories for nearly 20 years. This is a crisis that must not go on.
Over 5 years ago, the U.N. General Assembly recognized water and sanitation as human rights. The U.N. Human Rights Council recommended that governments pay special attention to vulnerable communities and take steps to ensure that they have access to clean water. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to ending boil-water advisories in Indigenous communities within five years. This is laudable. We need to see evidence that he is standing behind that commitment in the March 22 budget.
The Council of Canadians is pressing the government to go even further: to create a Ministry of Water to carry out urgently needed expansion of water protections on many levels including support for public water and water infrastructure, reinstatement of water science and research programs, and assessment of the impacts of mining and energy development projects. Under international law, the federal government is responsible for protecting our water. Few responsibilities are more critical to our well being. For our sake, and for future generations, we all need to insist that they allocate adequate funds and resources, and create legislation to fulfill our fundamental human right to clean, safe water for everyone.
Council of Canadians, P.E.I. Chapter
Writing can be very quick and simple; in fact, The Guardian is clarifying its rules for letters -- 250 words or fewer. Most word processing and many e-mail programs have a word count feature if that helps.
Writing a little bit about what water means to you and our need to protect it (provincially and federally), and send it to:
The Guardian <email@example.com>
Eastern Graphic <firstname.lastname@example.org>
West Prince Graphic <email@example.com>
Journal Pioneer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You could also carbon copy your MLA (found here).
March 19, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today the Farmers' markets in Charlottetown and Summerside are open.
The Farm Centre Farmers' Market will be open *next week* and the week after that (first and last Saturdays of the month).
Central Queens Wildlife Federation (West River Watershed group) AGM, 10AM, Clyde River Community Centre, all welcome.
Free Food...actually, Free Food Safety Courses
The province is stepping up its requirements for food safety training for Islanders for functions:
"You are invited to attend a (one-day, free) food service safety course, leading to a FOOD SERVICE SANITATION CERTIFICATE. Presented by a Certified Public Health Inspector, the course features multi-media presentation on safe food preparation, how food poisoning happens, and how it can be prevented."
Besides food service operators and staff, it suggests it appeals to "non-profit community organizations and church groups that prepare food."
There are two dates just opened (9AM-4PM):
April 19, Charlottetown
April 26, Summerside
To register, contact Environmental Health at 368-4970 or email@example.comMore details:
*At some point the Province says it will start charging for the course.*
And a few events coming up related to agriculture:
Tuesday, March 22nd:
PEI ADAPT /Bioenterprise Maritimes Conference, 9AM - 3PM, PEI Farm Centre, free.
"Accelerating Agri-Entrepreneruship and Innovation,
Discuss your ideas with other innovative entrepreneurs.
Develop collaborative and supportive networks.
Discover exciting pathways to get your products to market
and accessing capital investment.
Conference Registration is free and open to anyone with an interest in the future of agriculture and agri-food production on Prince Edward Island.
Pre-registration is necessary as space is limited. To register call: 368-2005 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org."
Wednesday, March 30th:
Organic Ambassador Training Program, 9AM-12noon, registration fee.
"You're passionate about organic food and farming, and have so much (or even some!) knowledge to share - why not spread the message and get others to care? ACORN is launching a new Organic Ambassador training program to provide those like you – and other farmers, consumers, retailers and supporters of organic agriculture – with hands-on training to be a clear voice for organics in your market and/or community." <snip>
More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/786713804768253/
March 18, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last night was the District 18-19-20 "Infrastructure summit":
This was a good time, and a model that all MLAs could pattern meetings after. The event started with wonderful local food made by Chef Emily Wells, and informal chatting; then people grouped by District and discussed road concerns. Brad Trivers from District 18 had already identified area of need and had written them up (I got to the meeting about this point). Everyone regrouped for a discussion of road issues and other infrastructure concerns. These can be quite local, of course, but common to many Districts -- small paving budgets not being enough to maintain the roads we have, and people needing to get around for their livelihood; future renewable energy ideas; improving internet quality, access, and pricing; balancing the beauty of "heritage roads" with environmental and fiscal management; and some other topics, like reforestation.
While the three MLAs got just a tiny bit partisan at times (and no wonder, watching how they could sometimes be treated in the Legislature), the overall tone was positive and these MLAs so very accessible.
They were able to shed a lot of light on how things get decided or work, and the background on what they didn't know was often supplied by a person in the audience.
Summing it up:
My blurry photo from the middle of the room.
MLAs left to right Brad Trivers (District 18: Rustico-Emerald), Matt MacKay (speaking) (District 20: Kensington-Malpeque) and Jamie Fox (Leader of the Opposition and MLA for District 19: Borden-Kinkora) return to the stage to sum up constituents' concerns at their "Infrastructure Summit" on Thursday, March 18th, 2016 in Emerald.
MLAs are busy with the last weeks of committee meetings before the Legislature resumes sitting (which starts on Tuesday, April 5th with a brand new Speech from the Throne. This afternoon has the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, with this description from the Legislative Assembly website:
The committee will receive briefings from Alexander (Sandy) MacKay on organic farming; and from John Jamieson and Neil MacNair of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on the Aquaculture Leasing Management Board.
Sandy MacKay is always worth listening to. Unfortunately, the audio link for his soft-spoken yet powerful presentation to the Environmental Advisory Council at their last public meeting in December regarding a water act is not working. But his written submission is on this Water Act page at the very bottom. Very good reading at least!
Today: Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries meeting, 1PM, J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Great George and Richmond. All welcome.
Sandy MacKay is first on the agenda and agriculture and Fisheries Deputy Minister John Jamieson and Director of Aquaculture Neil MacNair are next.
District 17: Kellys Cross-Cumberland MLA Peter Bevan-Baker is holding two community "chili and chat" events for residents to discuss concerns and ideas next week.
Thursday, March 24th, 7PM, Afton Hall.
Saturday, March 26th, 1PM, Emyvale Community Centre.
Any more that you know of in your District?
Straightforward words in the March 18th Global Chorus essay from Odey Oyama, who is a human rights activist in Nigeria:
<snip> "In my view, therefore, humanity can only move beyond the present state of the environment if people develop the consciousness to reduce and control their large footprints rather than continue to depend on other people in other regions of the world to ameliorate the damage they themselves are causing in the environment through their selfish actions in industrialization and energy production." -- Odey Oyama
March 17, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Reminders that events today include:
Invasive Species Council First Annual General Meeting, 1-4PM (or later), Farm Centre, Charlottetown. Presentations and displays, all welcome.
Infrastructure Summit, 6PM -onward. Emerald Community Centre. Districts 18, 19 and 20 (MLAs Brad Trivers, Jamie Fox and Matt MacKay) host an evening to discuss and list priorities for provincial infrastructure money in their districts. Though specifically for those Districts, all welcome. Supper (local, and prepared by Chef Emily Wells) foods at 6PM, discussion starts at 7PM (roads first, then other infrastructure). Free.
The province released the one-page budget from the e-gaming proposal, after ordered to do so by the Privacy Commissioner (based on an original request by The Guardian). It's just a proposed budget, not the actual accounting for how the money was spent, which the Opposition Parties have renewed calls for. The Guardian in an editorial here discusses the issue.
The often humourous, but today pointed, commentary by F. Ben Rodgers:
OPINION: Green beer wrong message - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on March 13, 2016, in The Guardian
As we near another St. Patrick's Day I sincerely hope that the Guardian and Journal newspapers can find something a little more intelligent than a barmaid holding a pint of green beer to adorn their front pages. There always seems to be two opinions expressed about St. Patrick’s Day. One, its a great to wear the green and to celebrate our Irish heritage. The other is unfortunately more likely to portray the Irish as being fond of the drink. It seems too many consider the 17th as an opportunity to spend the whole day drinking beer (green).
It’s stereotyping and offensive. I doubt you will find many with a real Irish heritage and pride in the pubs drinking green beer. As a nation Ireland has struggled more than most, yet have spread their knowledge and charm in books, music and theatre throughout the world. The Irish didn’t keep slaves, but they were slaves. They never came as conquerors but know what its like to be conquered. They have never imposed their beliefs on others but have added greatly to the civilized world.
Something you might think about on the 17th if you decide to wear the green. I wish you all a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day.
F. Ben Rodgers,
The Guardian today has gone with a photo of preschool children with green bows and facepaint, and the paper is topped with a brilliant green, shamrock-studded masthead.
March 16, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
An event tomorrow afternoon:
Tomorrow, Thursday, March 17th:
Invasive Species Council's first annual meeting, 1-4PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Ave., Charlottetown. All are welcome and invited to stay for the entire afternoon or just pop in for a presentation and refreshments.
Not to be a wet blanket to those preparing to fly to a warmer climates for March Break, but here is a thoughtful piece on the cognitive dissonance (definition: the psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously) of a climate scientist flying to meetings all over the globe.
<snip> Hour for hour, there’s no better way to warm the planet than to fly in a plane. If you fly coach from Los Angeles to Paris and back, you’ve just emitted 3 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, 10 times what an average Kenyan emits in an entire year. Flying first class doubles these numbers.
However, the total climate impact of planes is likely two to three times greater than the impact from the CO2 emissions alone. This is because planes emit mono-nitrogen oxides into the upper troposphere, form contrails, and seed cirrus clouds with aerosols from fuel combustion. These three effects enhance warming in the short term.
<snip> In today’s world, we’re still socially rewarded for burning fossil fuels. We equate frequent flying with success; we rack up our "miles." This is backward: Burning fossil fuels does real harm to the biosphere, to our children, and to countless generations—and it should, therefore, be regarded as socially unacceptable.
--Peter Kalmus, from "How Far Can We Get Without Flying", posted on-line on February 16, 2016, originally from Yes Magazine
What you take from the earth, you must give back. That's nature's way. -- Chris d'Lacey, author of children's fantasy novel The Fire Within
March 15, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
This morning at 10AM is a very important Legislative Standing Committee meeting in Charlottetown. The committee is the one on Health and Wellness, and two important topics are being considered today: the Well-Being Measurements Act, which "Third-Party Leader" and District 17:Kellys Cross- Cumberland MLA Peter Bevan-Baker is promoting. If you remember, this was really such a new concept the Legislative Assembly figured it needed to take a better look at it first through committee work. Peter Bevan-Baker, Dr. Jim Randall from the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI, and Dr. Irene Novaczek, who authored a study (The Quality of Island Life survey) in Tignish about ten years ago, will be speaking on it. Also on the ambitious agenda is a presentation from Alan MacPhee and Fred Cheverie of Islandwide Hospital Access, which would be well-worth going to hear, also.
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, 10AM, J. Angus MacLean Building, main floor. All welcome, as these meetings are open to the public, and if you can pop in to show support for either or both of these endeavors, please do. In the domino effect of Province House being shut down for renovations and the Assembly moving to the Coles Building next door, standing committees are across Richmond Street in the J. Angus MacLean Building, which is the sweet old building on the corner of Great George and Richmond Streets,the front entrance where the horse and carriage parks during the summer.
National Farmers' Union District Convention, 10AM-4PM, Milton Hall (corner of Rte. 7 and Rte. 224), all welcome. Environment Department executive director Todd Dupuis will be speaking on the provincial water act about 1:15PM, and NFU president Jan Slomp is the keynote speaker. Jan gave an informative interview on CBC Radio yesterday morning and here is a CBC web article with him.
Thursday night, March 17th:
Districts 18-19-20 Infrastructure Summit, 6PM food, 7PM Discussion, Emerald Community Centre. All welcome.
And more on the TransPacific Partnership and other giant trade deals:
First, reserve Wednesday, April 27th:
Forum: P.E.I. and the TPP, 7PM, Rodd Charlottetown
Here are two article links on trade agreements from the Weekend Globe and Mail (I have only skimmed these, and thank Andrew Lush for passing them on).
And, a very worth reading now-or-when-you-have-time from former U.S. Secretary of Labour (during part of the Clinton years), who is one of the most interesting commentators I have stumbled across this past year:
Robert Reich, Essay, March 14th, 2016, posted on his Facebook account:
This week's essay (of course written from a U.S. perspective, but applies to Canada, too):
The Truth About Trade Deals
I used to believe in trade agreements. That was before the wages of most Americans stagnated and a relative few at the top captured just about all the economic gains.
The old-style trade agreements of the 1960s and 1970s increased worldwide demand for products made by American workers, and thereby helped push up American wages.
The new-style agreements increase worldwide demand for products made by American corporations all over the world, enhancing corporate and financial profits but keeping American wages down.
The fact is, recent trade deals are less about trade and more about global investment.
Big American corporations no longer make many products in the United States for export abroad. Most of what they sell abroad they make abroad.
The biggest things they “export” are ideas, designs, franchises, brands, engineering solutions, instructions, and software, coming from a relatively small group of managers, designers, and researchers in the U.S.
The Apple iPhone is assembled in China from components made in Japan, Singapore, and a half-dozen other locales. The only things coming from the U.S. are designs and instructions from a handful of engineers and managers in California.
Apple even stows most of its profits outside the U.S. so it doesn’t have to pay American taxes on them.
Recent “trade” deals have been wins for big corporations and Wall Street, along with their executives and major shareholders, because they get better direct access to foreign markets and billions of consumers.
They also get better protection for their intellectual property – patents, trademarks, and copyrights -- and for their overseas factories, equipment, and financial assets.
That’s why big corporations and Wall Street are so enthusiastic about the Trans Pacific Partnership – the giant deal among countries responsible for 40 percent of the global economy.
That deal would give giant corporations even more patent protection overseas. And it would allow them to challenge any nation’s health, safety, and environmental laws that stand in the way of their profits – including our own.
But recent trade deals haven’t been wins for most Americans.
By making it easier for American corporations to make things abroad, the deals have reduced the bargaining power of American workers to get better wages here.
The Trans Pacific Trade Partnership’s investor protections will make it safer for firms to relocate abroad – the Cato Institute describes such protections as “lowering the risk premium” on offshoring – thereby further reducing corporate incentives to make and do things in the United States, using and upgrading the skills of Americans.
Proponents say giant deals like the TPP are good for the growth of the United States economy. But that argument begs the question of whose growth they’re talking about.
Almost all the growth goes to the richest 1 percent. The rest of us can buy some products cheaper than before, but most of those gains would are offset by wage losses.
In theory, the winners could fully compensate the losers and still come out ahead. But the winners don’t compensate the losers.
For example, it’s ironic that the Administration is teaming up with congressional Republicans to enact the TPP, when congressional Republicans have done just about everything they can to keep down the wages of most Americans.
They’ve refused to raise the minimum wage (whose inflation-adjusted value is now almost 25 percent lower than it was in 1968), expand unemployment benefits, invest in job training, enlarge the Earned Income Tax Credit, improve the nation’s infrastructure, or expand access to public higher education.
They’ve embraced budget austerity that has slowed job and wage growth. And they’ve continued to push “trickle-down” economics – keeping tax rates low for America’s richest, protecting their tax loopholes, and fighting off any attempt to raise taxes on wealthy inheritances to their level before 2000.
I’ve seen first-hand how effective Wall Street and big corporations are at wielding influence – using lobbyists, campaign donations, and subtle promises of future jobs to get the global deals they want.
Global deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership will boost the profits of Wall Street and big corporations, and make the richest 1 percent even richer. But they’ll contribute the to steady shrinkage of the American middle class.
March 14, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Pi Day (3.14), thinking of those great irrational numbers out there.
On the topic of health, today is the last day for feedback on HealthPEI's next strategic plan. On the website link, there are a lot of documents that they encourage you to go through before commenting, and several required fields with various thoughtful questions (so they apparently just don't want your basic comments on how you would like to see the health system improved :-) Consider checking it out:
National Farmers' Union District Convention, 10AM-4PM, Milton Community Hall. NFU president Jan Slomp is the keynote speaker, and will be on CBC Radio this morning (I think).
The Global Chorus entry for today is by Tara McFatridge, who blogs about at http://biofriendly.com/blog/
She writes that the purposes for the blog are:
1. To find, share and discuss everyday solutions that contribute to solving the environmental problems we face.
2. To alleviate some of the doom and gloom pressure of global pollution through a lighter take on the day's environmental issues and through sharing the beauty of the environment itself.
An excerpt from her essay:
<snip>"Now I know some may argue that the Earth goes through this cyclic stage and so there is nothing we can do about its natural progression. While that may be true, there are steps we can take to contribute to the Earth’s longevity rather than its demise. How, and how quickly, we utilize Earth’s infinite resources will determine the quality of life we will have both now and in years to come. There are a number of renewable resources that need to become mainstream energy sources. Future inventions and ideas should be about getting things done without either using up the remaining resources we have or tainting them with harmful chemicals and toxins. It’s our world. If we work together as a whole, then we can make the changes we want to see for the future: our own, our children’s and their children’s." -- Tara McFatridge
A recent post for "greening" your St. Patrick's Day (Thursday):
March 13, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A bit more on ideas related to the Leap Manifesto:
The first is from The Other Guardian, from early March:
Canada’s post office could get a revolutionary green make-over - The Guardian (UK) article by Martin Lukacs
The post office is far from dead. With Trudeau’s support, it can become the catalyst of a more caring, equal economy
A bold proposal launched last week by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers lays out how this reimagining would look. Their vision begins by transforming the post office itself: putting solar panels on its roofs and made-in-Canada electric vehicles on the roads, and installing charging stations outside. (Full disclosure: I (author Martin Lukacs) was part of a team that worked with the postal workers on this plan.)
They wouldn’t rest at being a model of sustainability. They would offer the public the possibility of far more: the delivery of farm food to your home, checking in on elders, and promoting climate-friendly businesses. Most dramatically, they would also offer postal banking: affordable basic services as well as loans and support to start a renewable energy project at your home or in the community.
In many places, especially rurally, the post office already serves as a community hub; but now it could also help power a new economy. This is exactly the kind of transformative public services we need in an age of overlapping crises – fostering more caring communities and sustainable economic development, while helping bring down carbon emissions.<snip>
(link to full article is above)
Continuing sharing the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Leap Manifesto:
FAQs LEAP 3 and 4
Are the policies advocated in the Leap Manifesto “utopian”?
Hardly. Many of the policies – like a speedy transition to renewables, massive green job creation, and more democratic control over our energy – are already being implemented in other countries. Germany now generates 30 percent of their electricity from renewables, has created 400,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, and has a thousand local cooperatives that ensure community control over energy. Scientific studies – cited in the manifesto – show that a complete and economically-beneficial transition toward renewable energy is feasible within the next two to three decades. Climate scientists are telling us it must be done; the engineers tell us it is possible; now we just need to generate the political power to make it happen.
But can we afford it?
Yes. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has produced a document explaining how to raise the money for The Leap in a way that will be a net positive for the economy.
Happy Leap Year to the National Post
By Maude Barlow, Mark Hancock, Joanna Kerr, and Katie McKenna
posted on The Council of Canadians website on February 25th, 2016
In response to the latest of many attacks published in Canada’s National Post, four prominent supporters of the Leap Manifesto submitted the following letter to the editor in order to correct the record. The Post declined to publish.
Since the Leap Manifesto launched in September 2015, the National Post has published no fewer than 24 articles and letters mentioning it, an average of one per week. Without exception, each has been an attack on the project—dotted with mischaracterizations and factual inaccuracies. Some examples:
—The Leap Manifesto is a “…plan to overthrow capitalism.” Wrong.
—The manifesto calls for “an end to all trade deals.” Actual text: “We call for an end to all trade deals that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects.”
—“Calls for a basic annual income.” Actual text: “we call for a vigorous debate about the introduction of a universal basic annual income.”
—The Manifesto is backed by “celebrity recruits.” We’re delighted that dozens of Canada’s top cultural figures have signed the manifesto. So has Ontario’s former Chief Justice; the head of Canada’s Jesuits; Oxfam; Greenpeace; the Council of Canadians; Idle No More; and (crucially) more than 30,000 other signatories.
The Leap Manifesto has been endorsed by over 150 organizations, including national nonprofits, major unions, religious groups, and a multi-million dollar corporation. CNN called it “a model for the world” during the UN climate negotiations in Paris in December. Parallel initiatives are underway in the United Kingdom, Australia and United States. Many of the social democratic policies it calls for are mainstream in several European countries, and many are under debate every day in the current U.S. election.
In Paris, Canada’s government committed to radically lowering its emissions. The Leap Manifesto outlines practical policies for how we can do this in ways that change our country for the better.
The old saying goes: ‘first they ignore you, then they attack you, then you win.” We’re delighted to have advanced to this crucial second stage within the pages of the Post. But we’d appreciate it if you’d get your facts straight.
Happy Leap Year!
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians
Mark Hancock, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Joanna Kerr, Executive Director, Greenpeace Canada
Katie McKenna, The Leap Manifesto
There is a lot of potential for moving this forward on P.E.I. Emphasizing renewables, and reconsidering the role of our post offices are two things to consider mentioning to your municipal, provincial and federal leaders as community meetings happen this month.
The summary of the Charlottetown Initiative on Maritime Sustainable Energy Transition is here:
Hope you changed your clocks and maybe we'll figure out how to appreciate daylight without switching time one of these years,
March 12, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets open in Charlottetown (9AM - 2PM) and Summerside (9AM - 1PM) today.
If you are thinking of seeds for spring and summer but missed the Seedy Saturdays seed purchasing events, the PEI Seed Alliance has local seeds -- more information here:
It's not too early to think about joining or renewing a membership to a CSA (community shared agriculture system). The fantastic Pauline Howard continually updates the "CSAs on P.E.I." list on the Food Exchange PEI website:
So many choices of foods and formats, and people should not worry about discontinuing one and trying another -- these small-scale farmers are very collegial and understand that some CSAs are a better fit than others. The big picture is to support our local producers.
This week, a court in Pennsylvania awarded in favour of two families from the northern part of the state for damages due to their (water) wells being contaminated by methane gas caused by nearby fracking operations from the Cabot Oil&Gas Company. This is one of the first rulings in favour of residents, and in this case what's been a very long legal battle over seven years and with most of the families dropping out and settling with the company.
“(The court-awarded amount) will not bring back drinkable well water to the long-suffering families of Dimock, Pennsylvania,” Sandra Steingraber, PhD, science advisor for Americans Against Fracking, told EcoWatch. “No amount of money can do that. Once groundwater is polluted, it’s polluted forevermore. But what this important jury decision does do is strip away the mirage of omnipotence that Cabot and other gas companies operate behind. Fracking poisons water. That’s what the science shows. The frackers will be held responsible. That’s what this court decision shows.”
The full story: http://ecowatch.com/2016/03/10/cabot-dimock-fracking-case/
On Thursday, a very long article, the first of several, apparently, on the Irving Family businesses in New Brunswick, was published on-line at The National Observer at this url: http://www.nationalobserver.com/special-reports/house-irving
Are the Irvings Destroying New Brunswick? - The National Observer article
Canada's 4th richest family runs New Brunswick like their own personal fiefdom - while the province declines.
From the forthcoming Series: House of Irving, by Bruce Livesey, March 11th, 2016
now there is this note:
Part one of a six-part series on the Irvings
This story has been removed pending updates. It will be re-published in May, along with the entire series. Contrary to speculation, the delay is not due to pressure from the Irving group of companies. Thank you. -- National Observer website
So it's not sharable. It spelled out the family history in brief and an overview of issues in New Brunswick when one family owns so very much, including most of the media. I was also surprised (if I remember correctly) by the mention that the Irvings are the sixth largest owners of private land in the United States.
From the Global Chorus anthology from a day in March:
<snip> "For me, the future is brighter than it has ever been because we now know many of the problems that confront us – communications makes it impossible to hide them – and 99 per cent of people in the world would like to be able to do the 'right thing.' "-- Tim Smit, British businessman and conservationist
March 11, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The PEI Symphony Orchestra's annual citrus sale ends this weekend. There will be a stall at the Confederation Mall downtown around lunchtime, and at the Farmers' Market in Charlottetown Saturday.
Next week has some interesting events:
Tuesday, March 15th:
National Farmers' Union (NFU) District Convention, 10AM to 4PM, Milton Community Hall. All welcome.
The Hall is located at the intersection of Route 7 and Route 224 in North Milton. Todd Dupuis, executive director of the P.E.I. government's Environment Division, will give an update on the development of the P.E.I. Water Act at 1:15PM, and other speakers included Alan McIsaac, Minster of Agriculture and Fisheries, and NFU National President Jan Slomp, the keynote speaker.
Thursday, March 17th:
Invasive Species Council first annual general meeting, 1-4PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Ave., All welcome, free.
"The afternoon will include a presentation series and educational expo. Groups participating include: Nature PEI, Ducks Unlimited, The PEI Aquaculture Alliance, CFIA, The City of Charlottetown and more! A full list of speakers and displays will be released this week. This is a public event and everyone is welcome to attend! Refreshments will be served. Admission is free."
Thursday, March 17th:
District 18-19-20 Infrastructure Summit, 6PM - Food, &PM - Discussion, Emerald Community Centre. All welcome.
An event to discuss residents' concerns and their "wish lists" regarding infrastructure projects in districts Rustico-Emerald, Borden-Kinkora, and Kensington-Malpeque, hosted by local MLAs Brad Trivers, Jamie Fox and Matt MacKay. An excellent idea.
A good essay in The Guardian from Friday, March 4th, 2016:
A push for bold action on climate change - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan MacPhee
Immediate attention on climate change moral imperative, economic opportunity
Premier MacLauchlan took part in a First Ministers’ meeting in Vancouver on Thursday to begin a national discussion on climate change and energy strategy.
With Prime Minister Trudeau, the provincial premiers, and Aboriginal government leaders, Canada began hashing out a nation-wide energy strategy that is in line with the promises we made to the world at the international climate summit in Paris last December.
We vowed that our country will work hard to do our part in reducing carbon emissions to the point that the rise in global temperatures will not surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
This is not an arbitrary commitment. We have already surpassed 1 degree Celsius of warming, and even now, we are witnessing the destabilization of global weather and precipitation patterns. This has had disastrous effects on infrastructure, as extreme weather events have become more frequent and intense, which we saw during Calgary’s historic floods in 2013.
Agriculture has also been affected, as once predictable wet and dry seasons have been transformed into erratic events of flooding and drought, which we saw during Alberta’s record-breaking heat, drought, and crop losses last summer. Climate change has caused billions upon billions of dollars of destruction in Canada and around the world. And it will cost billions, and likely even trillions more, if we choose to delay action any further.
Climate change also has an enormous impact on human lives. It has played a significant role in the unravelling of civil society in the Middle East.
Multi-year droughts in recent years have had catastrophic consequences on farmers’ crop yields in that region, causing food shortages and social unrest in already politically unstable, conflict-ridden countries, including Syria. Even these effects are hitting home. This week, Canada welcomed it’s 25,000th refugee from Syria’s violent collapse, symbolizing the end of only the very first wave of refugees, caused at least in part by climate change, that Canada will need to embrace in the decades to come.
Without a doubt, there will be many waves of climate refugees coming to Canada, regardless of our action today. However, the crucial difference between taking in hundreds of thousands of climate refugees, or millions upon millions, depends on the following choice: to act decisively and willingly now, or to act later when nature forces our hand. It is obvious that the correct course is immediate action.
Our commitment in Paris to act now is a declaration that Canadians understand the enormous amount of human suffering we can prevent, at home and abroad, by avoiding the most disastrous impacts of climate change. It also shows that Canadians and our leaders in government and industry recognize the tremendous economic opportunity climate change represents. But a commitment is nothing without the action and work to back it up.
If we act now by changing our lifestyles, our energy systems, and support progressive energy policies, provincially and federally, Canada will become a world leader in clean energy. We will help save lives and livelihoods; save ourselves billions of dollars in the long-term; create long-lasting, high-paying, high-skilled employment in sustainable industries; and revive our national reputation in the world to where it once was, as a compassionate and forward-thinking people.
If our governments come to us with an ambitious energy strategy, we need to back them up and support it. If the strategy is weak, we must push them to be bolder. We must act strongly on climate change now. It is not only a moral imperative, but an economic opportunity.
Jordan MacPhee is a student of political science and environmental studies at UPEI, a farmer, and a board member of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (ECO-PEI).
March 10, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some Electoral Reform notes:
The Democratic Renewal Special Legislative Committee is asking for input on how to word the plebiscite question until April 1st, as they prepare their second report for the Spring Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature.
The transcript for the Hunter River community forum meeting on February 23rd is here:
Gary MacDougall, author of the op-ed piece below, commented that evening, which I was unable to attend.
The transcript for the last evening meeting of the Democratic Renewal community forum is here:
I sat in on that meeting, and persons commenting included Horace Carver and Stephen DeGrace, who wrote the letter to the editor printed below.
Last weekend had this sequence of an opinion piece and a letter to the editor in response:
From The Guardian, Friday, March 4th, 2016, by former managing editor Gary MacDougall
First, find a bride - The Guardian article by columnist Gary MacDougall
Published on March 04, 2016
Electoral reform offers an opportunity to reinvigorate our democracy, but P.E.I. political parties must show leadership
While it will come as a surprise to many Islanders, they will soon be asked if they desire electoral reform and, if so, what shape it will take.
A legislature committee is tackling the issue. Last fall’s first round of public meetings discussed possible options to the present system, which is called First Past the Post (FPTP).
Critics of the system complain it allows parties to form overwhelming majorities while receiving less than a majority mandate from voters.
For example, the MacLauchlan Liberals received 40.8 per cent of the votes cast in May 2015 but received 18 legislature seats, which represents 67 per cent of them. A federal example of a similar FPTP system came last fall when the Liberals won 184 seats in Parliament. That’s 54.4 per cent of Commons seats, but the party did it with only 39.5 per cent of the votes cast.
The list of lopsided examples produced by FPTP is a long one, but it was never that big of an issue on Prince Edward Island until third parties came into prominence.
In the last P.E.I. election, 22 per cent of the electorate voted for the Green Party and NDP, yet only one member of a third party was elected.
Armed with such evidence, the legislature committee has come up with some intriguing ways of ensuring that more votes count.
They include systems called First Past the Post Plus, Dual Member Mixed Proportion, Mixed Member Proportional and Preferential Voting.
At the present time, the committee is working to determine what the electoral reform plebiscite question will be. Once it is approved by the legislature, a public education campaign is planned from June to October in advance of a November plebiscite. Outside of family reunions and barbecues, it’s hard to get the attention of Islanders during the summer and early fall, so that education campaign will be a challenge.
Let’s face it. Islanders are not big on change. All jokes aside, some still question building a bridge to the mainland and allowing canned pop in.
So, given a choice between something they know, FPTP, and a rather confusing change to our electoral system, the default vote will likely stay with the system people know, which is what the electorate did in 2005, the last time electoral reform was put to a vote
It’s for that reason that I think the process is being rushed. Perhaps that’s the case so that at the end of the exercise the politicians will be able to say, in Pontius Pilate-fashion, they are washing their hands of the issue and it is up to the people.
That is unfair. It is too much to expect a mostly disinterested electorate to both vote for change and pick a new electoral system in one fell swoop.
Before we decide which buggy to hitch our horse up to, people must first be convinced there is a need for change, that we need a voting system that takes into account not just the powerful old-line parties and their allies, but also the interests and concerns of all voters.
And that’s not going to happen without the bi-partisan support of all P.E.I. parties. Outside of the fact nothing beats the taste of new potatoes, P.E.I. parties rarely see eye-to-eye on issues. That needs to change.
If our P.E.I. political parties truly want electoral change —Premier Wade MacLauchlan has already muddied the waters with his status quo comments — then they must agree on the principle of electoral reform and sell that idea to Islanders.
We need to get the bride — the public — to the altar in the sense of getting a commitment for electoral reform. Once the commitment is in place, an educational program will allow Islanders to choose the new system they want.
And then, like all marriages, it will be for better or worse, but there will be no turning back.
from the next day, Saturday, March 5th, in The Guardian
Electoral process not being rushed - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on March 05, 2016
I'm not sure I agree with Gary MacDougall in his column on March 4 that the electoral reform process is being rushed. The reality is that if electoral reform is to happen at all, it has to be within a single government mandate. That doesn't leave a lot of time, so it's critical not to dawdle.
Electoral reform is in the best interests of all parties. Being wiped out once a decade is poison to institutional stability. That's why the PC's have been such a mess, and it's what the Liberals on their third mandate are staring in the teeth. Reform will get rid of the wild swings.
Personally, I favour the made-in-Canada Dual Member Mixed Proportional (DMP) option. It's pretty easy to understand. You just cast a single vote. It's 100 per cent geographic, without back room party lists, and you get a result that's proportional to how people voted.
You wind up with two MLAs representing your riding. Everyone's vote winds up counting.
Stephen DeGrace, Charlottetown PE
March 9, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight, two events organized by or featuring young Island science professionals:
Blue Drinks, starting at 6PM, Upstreet Craft Brewery, 41 Allen St., Charlottetown
"Blue Drinks is a networking event hosted by the Canadian Water Network Student and Young Professional Committee (CWNSYPC) for members of the water community to discuss water-related challenges, developments, and opportunities for collaboration. Students, researchers, professionals, and interested members of the public are welcome to attend! <snip> Erin Mundy is the Atlantic representative for the Canadian Water Network Student and Young Professional Committee (http://www.cwn-rce.ca/young-professionals/2015-2017-committee-members/). Erin will be hosting the Blue Drinks event in Charlottetown at Upstreet Craft Brewery on behalf of the CWN."
Renewable Energy Forum, 7pm, Murphy Community Centre, Richmond St., Charlottetown.
From main speaker, Matt McCarville, "The NDP Policy and Education Committee is hosting <this>. A transition to 100% clean, renewable energy for all-sectors of Canada and PEI by 2050 will be considered. Science shows it's viable. Tens of thousands of Canadians are now calling for this goal. There will be ample time for discussion and Q&A. The event is free and open to all." Facebook event details here.
There are amazing, talented, caring young people here. Let's help keep them here.
On Thursday, February 25th, the Institute of Island Studies (IIS) hosted a panel on local governance.
The event was filmed and is here on their website.
It was just under two hours long. There was a lot of time and thought put into the effort.
The Guardian also carried a story on it on Friday, March 4th; the reporter only wrote about the first and third speakers (Stratford councilor Diane Griffin, and UPEI biologist Mike van Den Heuvel). The final speaker (Jeannetta Arsenault) who spoke on a plan for the Evangeline region, and trials they have had so far, and Dr. Ryan Gibson, the actual only expert in geography and local governance on the panel, were omitted in the article. The title of the article, "Amalgamation on PEI complicated but necessary" frames the picture.
The justifications driving rural amalgamation seems to be about decreasing inefficiencies and raising the level of services. That's not much vision. Columnist and former government senior bureaucrat Allan Rankin wrote in a Graphic column a few weeks ago (January 27th, 2016):
<snip> In his watershed report, Judge Thompson cautioned that prior to further municipal amalgamation, “Islanders will have to be convinced that changes will be fair, affordable, necessary, not unduly onerous and in the best interest of the Island as a whole.”
That’s a stiff litmus test.
Thompson then went on to recommend carving up the Island into 24 “sustainable” municipal units from west to east. The Thompson Report ends with this warning: “We cannot afford to maintain the status quo in a world that is changing all around us.”
Clearly, Prince Edward Island must change in many respects to better its chances for economic and jurisdictional survival.
We need a new Island vision for the future, one built around quality education, respect for the land and entrepreneurship among other things.
We need a move away from the present industrial agricultural model and we desperately need greater environmental stewardship and more effective provincial land use policies.
We also need rural re-population and economic development.
But I am doubtful if wholesale municipal government reform can bring about any of this desired change.<snip>The parallels to
<snip> "The motto of our new era is 'less is more.' In our slow descent, we stop overdoing and find ourselves having more and more time to enjoy life. We’ll do less and be more. We will rediscover ourselves as human beings, not 'human doings.' It is a homecoming to our own nature." -- Keibo Oiwa, founder of the Slow Movement in Japan, writing for the March 9th Global Chorus essay
March 8, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today is International Women's Day, and many activities are planned, including one tonight celebrating Island women filmmakers, such as Millefiore Clarkes, who made the documentary Island Green about some Island family farms a few years back. More info:
March 8th is the second Tuesday of the month, so the Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble (CJE) gathers its beautifully massive self at the Pourhouse, upstairs at the The Olde Triangle, at the corner of Great George and Fitzroy Streets, for its monthly event.
"Four up and coming vocal talents will be featured Tuesday night at The Pourhouse when the Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble celebrates its 20th anniversary. Parker Clements, Alexandra Smith, Will Millington and Lindsay Gillis will perform tunes by the likes of Bernstein, Gershwin and Sondheim backed by the 20-member CJE. Music at 7pm, all ages (adult accompaniment), $10-adults, $5-students. Presented by the TD PEI Jazz and Blues Festival."
Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9th:
Blue Drinks PEI, 6PM, Upstreet Craft Brewing, Allen Street. Conversation about Island water issues. Facebook details here.
Renewable Energy Forum, 7PM, Murphy Community Centre. Facebook details here.
An interesting point of view in a recent Guardian:
There’s no need for political parties - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Friday, March 4th, 2016
I’ve just finished reading Wednesday’s editorial. Hats off to Sidney MacEwen for his comments, and for calling the premier to task. That needs to happen a lot more frequently.
With regard to electoral reform, proportional representation, et al, we are making things way more complicated than they need to be.
May I suggest that we consider something more basic? We are already paying 27 MLAs to run the affairs of the Island’s population of less than 150,000 people. I’m absolutely positive that we have as many MLAs as we need. So how about this.
Let’s just eliminate political parties altogether. We create one more seat and elect a premier, elect our 27 MLAs with no allegiance to anyone but the people. No party lines, no “us against them” mentality, just 27 people working for us.
And we could call it . . . democracy!
Shawn Landon, Murray Harbour
Here are a few "FAQs" from The Leap Manifesto's website:
Who wrote the Leap Manifesto?
The writing of The Leap Manifesto was initiated in the spring of 2015 at a two-day meeting in Toronto attended by 60 representatives from Canada’s Indigenous rights, social and food justice, environmental, faith-based and labour movements. The This Changes Everything team convened the meeting but did not determine any outcomes. The idea was to create a space to not just say “no” to the worst attacks on human rights and environmental standards, but to dream together about the world we actually want and how we could get there. The Manifesto went through several drafts and was shaped by the contributions of dozens of people.
Who organized this?
The Leap Manifesto is a non-partisan initiative coordinated by the This Changes Everything team. Those who have signed include supporters of all of the political parties, and some who support none. But everyone shares the belief that now is the moment for a transformative agenda to come from outside electoral politics, to build a wave of popular support that will put real pressure on the federal Liberal government. History tells us that this kind of outside pressure is the best gift any government can receive.
March 7, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Saturday's Guardian didn't pull any "punches" with the headline "Sedimental Journey" showing one of the graduate student researchers at UPEI out on the water. Glad to see the coverage, but the research and map are not new news; CBC ran a story on this research several months ago. It was originally posted by the CassandraPEI team on their Facebook page in October 2014.
Here is a screenshot of that posting in the Citizens' Alliance News in December 2014:
Here is the article in Saturday's Guardian:
And the logical, step-by-step researched CassandraPEI full set of articles and recommendations link is here:
With the current government promoting reform in electoral process, in education, municipal organization, etc., and certainly promoting export of agricultural products from P.E.I., reform on our agricultural systems' effect on the land really isn't happening. The "4Rs" programs for reducing nitrogen and other "agricultural input" overuse is, to quote others, just nibbling at the edges of the problem, and moving along at a glacial pace, though it is heavily touted and has been advertised with inserts in the local paper in the past year.
Ron Colman wrote a lovely essay for the March 7th Global Chorus. He is executive director of GPI Atlantic (Genuine Progress Index Atlantic) organization:
One quote still stands out:
"(There is) no need for 'sustainable development' jargon; every human being simply wants the world to be safe and secure for their children." --Ron Colman
March 6, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last week I tucked the link to a short TED Talk in a CA News, but I am putting it first here today since it may have been missed:
It's about 25 minutes long, and by former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, who is talking about why he is still hopeful about fighting climate change.
And from the anthology Global Chorus from around early March (March 3rd to be exact), from Stephen Lewis, former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, tireless champion of human rights):
"In 1988 I was fortunate enough to chair the first major international conference on climate change. We had between three and four hundred scientists and politicians gathered together over several days. The debate was of enormous intensity, and at the end of it a declaration was drafted, the opening words of which read as follows: 'Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.'
"That’s why I’m going to speak to you from the heart and as honestly as I can. In my view, the only answer to this crisis is the most dramatic reduction in the dependency on fossil fuel and the discharge of carbon; everything else is incidental. We’re in a tremendous race against time. This isn’t some abstraction. In order to avert the crisis that is looming, we have to create global citizens. We have to create citizens with acute environmental sensibilities, with a profound and honest understanding of the issues at stake. he truth of the matter is that we have unleashed forces which are not being curtailed, and everybody recognizes that what is required is political will to reverse the process.
"It is absolutely unbearable that young people are going to have to live with the consequences we have created. I’ve often thought, in my own life, that I should have spent a lot more time working on environmental issues. I feel a kind of insensate guilt and shame that 20 years ago I was part of a conference that forecast what was coming, and I chose to do other things and find other priorities
"I have three grandsons, ages 9, 7 and 2, and I can’t stand the thought of what they’re going to inherit. I’m not sure it’s possible to turn around an apocalypse, but if it is, it will come through environmental education, and it will come through collective, skilful, principled and uncompromising leadership." --Stephen Lewis
March 5, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Donald Stephens, when his regular running around the trails in the Bonshaw area ended tragically.
Farmers' Markets are open today in Summerside (9AM - 1PM) and both the Charlottetown Farmers' Market (9AM - 2PM) and the first-and-last-Saturdays-of-the-month Market at the Farm Centre (420 Univeristy Ave.) are open.
A reminder of the "Seedy Saturday" seed swaps and sales at Montague Public Library (2-4PM) and Breadalbane Public Library (3-6PM).
From a story in today's on-line Guardian about carbon pricing:
Premier Wade MacLauchlan welcomes carbon pricing agreement - The Guardian article by Jim Day
Published in print edition of The Guardian on Saturday, March 5th, 2016
photo that accompanied The Guardian story is © Adam Scotti/ Office of the Prime Minister
(on left) Robert Vessey, Chief of Staff and former MLA for District 8 (which is now represented by Premier Wade MacLauchlan), with arms folded watches Premiers MacLauchlan and Kathleen Wynne talk at the Prince Edward Island table at the Premiers/Prime Minister's talks on climate change this week (other person in photo with arms folded is unidentified)
Premier Wade MacLauchlan is returning to P.E.I. from the first ministers meeting in Vancouver with a sense of accomplishment. “It achieved what I had hoped for,’’ says MacLauchlan.
The premier says the 13 provincial and territorial leaders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached a consensus to work together to move towards what he termed a lower carbon future.
Opposition Leader Jamie Fox is eager for details on the province’s carbon tax plans. “All other Atlantic premiers have weighed in yet ours continues to avoid sharing any details,’’ Fox said in a statement Friday. “Islanders can be forgiven for thinking that this government has no plan, no costs, and no clue on a new carbon tax for Islanders.’’
MacLauchlan says he has nothing to announce. He says P.E.I. will be part of a working group that will work over the next six months to determine carbon price mechanisms.
“If anybody has any great ideas on that we would welcome them,’’ said MacLauchlan.
"I think what we all agreed to (Thursday)…is that we will work together on carbon pricing mechanisms adapted to each province’s and territories’ circumstances.’’
Carbon taxes are typically levied on fuels and other greenhouse gas sources such as gasoline, diesel, propane and furnace oil. In addition to carbon pricing mechanisms, the working groups will examine adaptation and resilience, such as clean infrastructure spending, clean tech innovation and jobs, and climate mitigation strategies.
MacLauchlan says P.E.I. was recognized at the conference for gains in biomass and wind energy. “And to recognize in a global sense that P.E.I. is a leader,’’ he added.
He believes increased attention to clean tech innovation will provide the province an opportunity to grow its economy.
Upon reading the Premier's call for ideas, I thought he needs to be reminded (by anyone: <email@example.com>) that he has people very close to help: Peter Bevan-Baker, whose Party has ideas on carbon taxing, and Island energy experts like Matt McCarville (who is giving a presentation Wednesday night sponsored by the PEI NDP (Facebook event details here). Maybe he should be encouraged to attend, along with Energy Minister Paula Biggar and PEI Energy Commission head Kim Horrelt.
And with excellent timing, there is also this clear and easy nine pages "Priorities for Action" just released from the Charlottetown Initiative, which was held two weeks ago, on Maritimes' Sustainable Energy Transition. The document is on this page of the Ecology Action Centre website.
March 4, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A few seedy events to keep in mind Saturday:
Saturday, March 5th:
Montague Seedy Saturday, 2-4PM, Montague Rotary Library (same building as the rink). Seed exchange, sees for sale, etc.
Breadalbane Seedy Saturday, 3-6PM, Breadalbane Public Library.
I made a mistake yesterday in a date: the Dual-Member Mixed Proportional op-ed piece was published in the print Guardian on Friday, February 19th, not the 22nd, as I said in yesterday's CA News. Thanks to the person who caught that.
This main editorial was from Thursday, February 25th in The Guardian, and is an interesting read -- especially the last part (the implications of the ruling to make it harder to argue for more access based on "compelling public concern", which has not been discussed very much
Privacy ruling major setback to public, media access to information - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on February 25, 2016
A ruling by P.E.I. Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose contains good news and bad news for Island taxpayers.
Ms. Rose has ordered the provincial government to release a one-page document providing details of a $950,000 government loan that funded the province’s troubled e-gaming initiative.
The page was withheld by the province last November when it released the loan contract signed between the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. and Innovation P.E.I. The contract was released following a Guardian freedom of information request, made in November 2014.
Subsequent Guardian stories revealed the loan was made without security or collateral. The contract contained startling and disturbing revelations. If the e-gaming plan proceeded, the loan would be repaid through profits earned by the Confederacy. If the plan didn’t proceed, the Confederacy didn’t have to repay the loan.
It appears the Confederacy acted largely as a middleman in the plan and had no control over the loan, who was paid, how it was spent, who made those decisions or what happened to the rest of the money. The missing document should provide details on those key questions.
Since the loan was not repaid, Island taxpayers are on the hook for almost $1 million. And since it involved public dollars, taxpayers have every right to see those details.
The Guardian applied to the privacy commissioner for a review of the province’s refusal to release the missing page, arguing the information falls within the public interest.
The commissioner strayed off course in her ruling. She ordered that the page be released — not because it falls within the public interest, but because the information doesn’t belong to the confederacy, information on the page was not supplied in confidence and disclosure would not harm the confederacy’s competitive or negotiating position.
The privacy commissioner rejected The Guardian’s argument of public interest, saying this argument is only applicable if the matter is “compelling public interest,” applying mainly to matters of public health or safety and not political issues.
Any issue involving taxpayers’ money should be within the scope of public interest. By narrowly defining and limiting “compelling public interest,” the commissioner has dealt a serious blow to future appeals under the Freedom of Information Act.
This ruling offers the province a wide argument for withholding information in the future. The ruling could shield any number of documents from being disclosed if they are not compelling and don’t fall under major public health or public safety concerns.
Ms. Rose’s ruling is very troublesome. If the matter is not compelling, almost any document or information can be withheld — certainly anything dealing with political matters.
The rule of thumb should be that all information involving taxpayers’ money is of compelling public concern and should be released. The burden should be on the province to prove otherwise but just the opposite is in effect today.
The burden is now on the media or public to prove the issue is of compelling public concern. Under the FOIPP Act, the government had to prove that three exemptions existed in order to withhold information. If Ms. Rose follows her very narrow definition, fewer applicants will apply under the act as chances are slim of getting many documents released through FOIPP appeals.
Innovation P.E.I. can apply for a judicial review on the contract document ruling but it would be a huge mistake to do so.
The province has wasted enough taxpayers’ money on this loan without going through a hearing before a Supreme Court justice to try and overturn the ruling by the privacy commissioner.
But should the judicial review go forward, then hopefully the justice would not only uphold the release of the document but also redefine and widen what the act means in terms of public interest.
Ms. Rose’s interpretation of the act is much too narrow. It runs contrary of this of government’s professed pledge to be open, accountable and transparent. Secrecy must not prevail.
A government appeal to halt the release of this document would be a repudiation of this pledge and render the government guilty of hypocrisy in the first degree.
Ms. Rose’s ruling is a classic example of a modern day Pyrrhic victory — where the P.E.I. public and media won the battle but lost the war.
March 3, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
"It's like Darth Vader sitting down with the Ewoks to fight Climate Change." That's Rick Mercer on his "Rant" describing the scene of Guy Giorno, one of Stephen Harper's former chiefs of staff, joining the Every Voter Counts Alliance, to push for proportional representation.
Rick Mercer's "Rant" from Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 (1min 50 sec):
<snip> Giorno, who also served as former Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, is a member of a new group called the Every Voter Counts Alliance, which is launching Thursday to push for this electoral reform.
The coalition backing the change includes former Privy Council clerk Alex Himelfarb and groups including YWCA Canada, labour unions, the Canadian Federation of Students and The BraFair Vote Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that the 2015 federal election would be the last fought under the first-past-the-post system — a process that often results in a party winning a majority of Commons seats with less than 40 per cent of the vote.
"The problem with the current system is it was designed by politicians for politicians," said Giorno.
The Liberals are considering a number of electoral systems but prefer ranked ballots, also known as preferential ballots. This system allows voters to indicate their first, second and subsequent choices. If no candidate wins a majority, the last-place candidate is dropped and voters' second choices are counted until a candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote.
The first-past-the-post system allowed the Liberals to capture 54 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. However, under a preferential system, the Liberals would have seen a significant increase in the number of seats won.
The Broadbent Institute has been working electoral reform for quite a while.
And from over a week ago, an op-ed piece describing one kind of proportional representation that is being more closely looked at for P.E.I. to consider, the Dual-Member Mixed Proportional system, or DMP. Please note Mr. Graham refers to First Past the Post (winner-take-all, the system we have now) as Single Member Plurality, just to stir up the Alphabet Soup.
Dual-member mixed proportional best system for P.E.I. - The guardian Guest Opinion by Sean Graham
Published on February 22, 2016
Last November, the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal announced that it was moving forward with consultations on four alternative electoral systems for possible inclusion in a plebiscite at the end of this year. One of these alternatives is called Dual-Member Mixed Proportional, or DMP. I developed this new system in 2013 with research funding from the University of Alberta.
My objective was to design a new electoral system that would address the shortcomings of the Single Member Plurality (SMP) voting system in the Canadian context while avoiding the scale of change required by previously considered alternatives, such as Single Transferable Vote (STV) and Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). With the aforementioned consultations now underway, it seems like the appropriate time to explain why DMP is the alternative system most suited to P.E.I.
DMP retains local representation, achieves proportionality, and, from the voter’s perspective, looks nearly identical to SMP. It works by creating two-member districts where the first candidate is elected by plurality (that is, the candidate with the most votes wins) and the second candidate is elected by a process that produces province wide proportionality.
More specifically, proportionality is achieved by using the provincial voting results to determine the number of seats each party deserves and the individual district results to determine where each party will win its seats. As a result, DMP simultaneously respects the principles of provincial and local accountability.
The unique two-member district structure of DMP holds important advantages for rural areas and small parties. Unlike systems that require large multi-member districts, DMP has the flexibility to incorporate rural communities without excluding them from any of the benefits of electoral system reform. Since small parties rarely receive a plurality of votes, they would only need one candidate in each district.
Therefore, small parties would see a 50 per cent reduction in the number of candidates they require to contest an election. Such a large reduction in their recruitment workload would allow small parties to put more effort into nominating high quality candidates.
By electing all candidates within two-member districts, DMP also addresses two key complaints made against proportional systems like MMP: that mixed systems create two tiers of representatives and that proportional systems require the use of long party lists which hinder the electorate’s ability to hold candidates accountable.
Furthermore, unlike MMP where independents are unable to win the top-up seats, DMP places no seats off limits to independent candidates. If an independent places first or second within their district, they will be elected.
Since the White Paper on Democratic Renewal suggested using the Alternative Vote, or AV, it is worth giving a brief comparison of this system with DMP. Like AV, DMP would enable P.E.I. to return to its tradition of using two-member districts, to balance rural and urban representation, and to protect linguistic minorities.
However, that’s where the similarities end. Whereas DMP would always, and only, count the first choice preferences of Islanders, AV would only give a subset of the electorate this privilege. Many voters would have to settle for one of their lower ranked candidates, while others wouldn’t see their vote count at all. Together, these flaws would lead to election outcomes just as distorted as those manufactured by SMP.
This is in stark contrast to the kind of results that would be realized with DMP. For instance, had DMP been used to determine the outcome of the last election, the legislature would have looked as P.E.I. voters wanted. Moreover, an overwhelming majority – in fact, possibly all – of the districts would have been represented by two different parties.
This would significantly increase the number of people in each district who are represented by a party they support. Indeed, in simulations of the past six elections, the average number of voters that would have elected a candidate from their preferred party in their district never dropped below 70 per cent and, in most cases, this number was above 85 per cent.
DMP has been designed to look and feel as much like SMP as possible while correcting its flaws. As a result, minimal changes would be required to ballot and district design. Vote counting procedures and party nomination processes would also not require any significant changes. Even the individual district results would be identical to those that would be produced by plurality voting in 80-90 per cent of the cases in most elections.
However, despite requiring few alterations to the current system, DMP would make strategic voting unnecessary, render gerrymandering a practical impossibility, and, most importantly, ensure that every voter’s first choice is reflected in election outcomes. In a nutshell, DMP would allow Islanders to make everyone’s vote count without having to get used to a new system that looks substantially different from the old one.
- Sean Graham is an expert in Canadian electoral systems and holds two Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Alberta.For more information go to: https://dmpforcan
March 2, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some diverse bits of news:
Last night was the last Democratic Renewal community forum focusing on ideas about the plebiscite question.
It was nearly a full-room downstairs at the Murphy Centre, and people with interesting opinions were there. David Bulger, actor and retired political science professor at UPEI, eloquently annoyed about half the people in the room by saying how great the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system is, and that the real problem is we have too many political parties now.
Pat Mella, former PC MLA and Leader of the Party, a woman who sat as the lone opposition member for three years, had a lot of interesting comments and also suggested that the idea of political party leaders get seats in the Legislature (if their party got some threshold of votes) be a separate question on a plebiscite, not tied to FPTP.
Anna Keenan and Brenda Oslawsky each clarified about aspects of proportional representation.
Horace Carter, former MLA and Commissioner for the Lands Protection Act review, also spoke, and had comments about various matters, from the shameless campaign financing structure, about having a sunset clause (limited time before review) on anything, and on using our gift of jurisdiction to try something different.
Many others spoke and it'll be released on transcripts soon. The transcripts of the first three meetings (of the six) are available here:
The Winter Woodlot Tour has been cancelled for 2016. I can guess how disappointed the organizers must be to put all the effort in to planning and outreach and have a winter like this make it more work checking and rescheduling, than if it actually happened.
Yesterday's Citizens' Alliance News had some photos from the LEAP Day event, and several e-mails bounced back to me. If you didn't receive it yesterday, it's on our website:
After the change in government in New Brunswick in late 2014, a review of hydraulic fracturing (shale gas)was ordered. The report was released in the past week. Volume I is only about 30 pages long, but I haven't read it yet; the table of contents looks intriguing.
Some people who have read most of it already have said it does address climate change well and the previous poor engagement of government with New Brunswickers about these kinds of issues.
And a reaction from the group fighting shale gas development is here.
Yesterday's Guardian had side by side stories on the Trans Pacific Partnership and on the CETA on the business page, both assumed the deal described to be clear sailing and actively supported by the federal Liberals. It was definitely an issue that separated parties in the Fall federal election, with the Liberals saying (if my memory serves) they would review and ask Canadians' opinions on these deals. I think they have listened to the the trade people's opinions.
Rosalind Waters did a fantastic job at the LEAP Social Monday night spelling out the concerns with these mega-deals -- that they are more about corporate rights than actual fair trading, and they were for the most part put together with no transparency or public scrutiny.
From the Journal-Pioneer on Thursday, February 25th:
Alternative energy for reduced demands - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor
Fossil fuels (coal, oil, peat, gas) are a non-renewable energy resource alright, but they will be scarce only in the future. The real problem is that fossil fuels are air-polluting right now.
The problem is not addressed by calling for renewable energy resources (like wood, bio-diesel), which are also air-polluting. Or to call for nuclear energy with its radiation pollution. Or to call for hydro-energy with its devastating environmental, social and political impacts and costs.
Instead we need to call explicitly for clean, green, sustainable resources, because the planet cannot handle the present large load of unsustainable and unhealthy conventional energies.
We also must voluntarily reduce our personal energy demands. This requires that we start right now with measuring, estimating and logging our present consumption of coal-fired, dirty, grit electricity, heating fuel, vehicle fuel, air transportation kilometres of the (brought-in, imported) foods we (sometimes unwisely) choose to buy.
Then are we in a position to find out where we can cut our personal consumption demands and how effective our personal future reduction efforts will be.
Karl (Carlo) Hengst, Summerside
Finally, Island amateur astronomer Glenn Roberts, as regular as the moon, writes a monthly column in The Guardian on the night skies. For those of us habitual folks, it was always the first Thursday, but they fiddled with the third section last month (and it merged into the second for an additional day on Wednesdays) and Glenn's column is a day earlier in the month now, the first Wednesday.
March 1, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
An event tonight:
Community Forum on Democratic Renewal, 7PM, Murphy Centre. This is the last community meeting in this round to discuss possible options for the plebiscite question on electoral reform. Hosted by the Special P.E.I. Legislative Committee on Democratic Renewal. All welcome -- you can go and give opinions or just hear those of others. Light refreshments.
Another event coming up in the next week is a "Blue Drinks" evening and an energy forum:
Wednesday, March 9th, Blue Drinks, 6PM, Upstreet Brewery, Allen Street. Facebook event details.
"This is a networking event hosted by the Canadian Water Network Student and Young Professional Committee (CWNSYPC) for members of the water community to discuss water-related challenges, developments, and opportunities for collaboration. Students, researchers, professionals, and interested members of the public are welcome to attend."
Wednesday, March 9th, Renewable Energy Forum, with renewable energy expert Matt McCarville, 7PM, Murphy Centre. Presentation and question and answer time.
Last night, The LEAP Day Social at the Farm Centre was a good time, with over 70 people attending its event. We showed the two minute video with Naomi Klein (one of the creators of this project) from a Huffington Post interview last Fall, Don Mazer did an overview of The LEAP Manifesto outlining the 15 points as laid-out in the "LEAPlet", had six speakers each talk for five minutes on what his/her network is already doing basically that incorporates parts of the LEAP (Reg Phelan on agriculture, Darcie Lanthier on green energy, Rosalind Waters on trade justice, Boyd Allen on democratic renewal, Marie Burge on basic income guarantee, and Catherine O'Brien on water and environment issues). We broke for refreshments and socializing and then regrouped at four big tables, and asked some questions to gauge priorities and ways forward. I am working on a summary of the discussion.
We hope to have a social again in May/June (LEAP Frog Day?), at the very least.
It was a good mix of people, some quite involved in organizations and some not, and a mix of ages. The Minister of Environment Robert Mitchell was there for the first half, and assistant deputy minister for the whole thing, and he provided some suggestions and insights.
Cindy Richards, Board Member of the Citizens' Alliance, summarized things very nicely in a post on our Facebook page, which said it all:
The Citizens' Alliance hosted a wonderful Leap Day 2016 event. What made it wonderful was the subject, the Leap Manifesto, a bold and necessary vision for Canada, based on caring for the earth and for one another. What made it even better, of course were the people who attended. I looked around to see many brilliant beautiful faces and was encouraged. I recognized a lot of people already working hard in the many areas of the manifesto and even more that I didn't recognize which was also encouraging. Hearing from some of the many existing groups, organizations, and coalitions, that are working hard and already moving forward on most of the manifesto points, likewise encouraging. As I sat listening and observing, I wondered how do we collectively, within our special interest groups, coalitions and organizations combine our energies to create the powerful thrust needed to propel such a Leap? Furthermore Now? I would like to further this conversation soon. Thanks everyone especially those that worked hard to make this happen.
Marie Burge talks about basic income, LEAP Day Social, Farm Centre, February 29th, 2016.
Some Citizens' Alliance board members share a light moment (Boyd Allen, Don Mazer, Cindy Richards and Catherine O'Brien), LEAP Day 2016.
Lynne Lund summarizes her table's thoughts on where to go next, with Catherine O'Brien, LEAP Day 2016.
"If Canadians are going to move beyond the relentless messaging that we have to choose between jobs and climate action, we're going to need more than slogans, we're going to need specifics. This is our attempt to do that, to lay out a nuts and bolts policy agenda." -- Naomi Klein, on The LEAP Manifesto